Free airport fuelling facilities from public sector stranglehold, says oil regulator

India's oil regulator the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has said aviation fuelling facilities at airports should be freed from the public sector stranglehold, and the existing infrastructure should be opened to all players, including private companies.

PNGRB chairman L Mansingh has written to Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Chawla asking that aviation fuelling infrastructure be brought under common carrier or open access principles, to allow use of the facilities of public sector oil companies like the IndianOil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) by new entrants like Reliance and Essar.

"The board is examining re-organising the logistics for supply of aviation fuel to ensure that no supplier has a stranglehold on any portion of the infrastructure that would hinder the emergence of competition," Mansingh's 10 October letter said. The PNGRB Act presently provides for the common carrier principle only for oil, gas pipelines and city gas distribution networks.

"Taking a cue from the awards for new airports by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at Hyderabad and Bangalore for setting up aviation fuelling infrastructure under common carrier or open access principles, AAI should also be simultaneously directed to pursue extension of similar principles to cover other airports," the letter said.