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Creating a legacy - The History and Journey of BPCL

Discover the rich history of Bharat Petroleum, India’s ‘best performing’ Navratna Public Sector Undertaking, and its journey from being an Oil and Gas Company in India to a Fortune 500 oil refining, exploration and marketing conglomerate.
A Glorious Heritage

A Glorious Heritage (1860 – 1871)

Around 1860’s, the world witnessed vast industrial development that ultimately lead to an increase in petroleum refineries. This was also the time that our historical journey began as Burma Oil Company.

Although incorporated in Scotland in 1886, the Burma Oil Company became an important player in the South Asian market that grew out of an enterprise named Rangoon Oil Company (formed in 1871) to refine crude oil produced from primitive hand dug wells in Upper Burma independently.

 

Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground (1886 – 1889)

The search for oil and gas in India began in 1886, when Mr. Goodenough of McKillop Stewart Company successfully drilled a well near Jaypore, Upper Assam, striking oil.

However, it wasn’t until 1889 when the Assam Railway and Trading Company (ARTC) struck oil at Digboi that a chain reaction sparked off, marking the beginning of oil production in India.

 

The Birth of a Titan

The Birth of a Titan (1928)

While discoveries were being made and industries expanded, John D. Rockefeller and his business associates acquired control over numerous refineries and pipelines. With these acquisitions under their belt, they went on to form the Standard Oil Trust – a giant in its own right.

Observing this and to counter the growing significance of Standard Oil, three largest rivals - Royal Dutch, Shell and Rothschild’s - came together to form a single organisation called Asiatic Petroleum to market petroleum products in South Asia.

In 1928, Asiatic Petroleum (India) joined hands with the Burmah Oil Company, an active producer, refiner and distributor of petroleum products, particularly in Indian and Burmese markets to form the Burmah-Shell Oil Storage and Distributing Company of India Limited.
 

A Pioneering Approach

A Pioneering Approach – 

Burmah Shell began its operations with the import and marketing of Kerosene and soon proved itself to be a pioneer in more ways than one. The company imported oil products in bulk and transported them in 4-gallon and 1-gallon tins all over India.

The company also took up the challenge of reaching out to people in remote villages to ensure every home was supplied with kerosene. Thus, the development and promotion of efficient kerosene-burning appliances for lighting and cooking became an important part of its kerosene selling activity.

The Retail Revolution

The Retail Revolution (1930)

With the advent of motor cars, came canned Petrol to be subsequently followed by fuel service stations. In the 1930s, retail sale points were built with driveways set away from the road. As more such service stations began to appear, they soon became an accepted part of road infrastructure and development.

Post war, Burmah Shell established efficient and up-to-date fuel service and filling stations to give its customers the highest possible standard of service facilities.
 

From the ground to the sky

From the ground to the sky (1932 - 1962)

On 15th October 1932, when civil aviation arrived in India, Burmah Shell had the honour of fuelling J.R.D. Tata's historic solo flight in a single-engine De Havillian Puss Moth from Karachi to Bombay via Ahmedabad. Thirty years later, i.e. in 1962, Burmah Shell again had the privilege of fuelling Mr Tata's re-enactment of the original flight.

The company also fuelled the erstwhile flying boats that carried airmail, at slightly higher rates than sea transport, across several locations. 
 

A New Beginning in a New Nation

A New Beginning in a New Nation

Showcasing its pioneering spirit, the company introduced LPG as a cooking fuel to Indian homes in the mid-1950s. As always, it went beyond selling petroleum, educating customers and offering better services and products.

Besides selling Bitumen, the company pioneered desert road construction and imparted training road engineers. It provided free technical services to industrial customers - big and small - and over time, this spirit of collaboration became part of company culture.



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