Bharat Petroleum (BPCL)

    Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL) history, profile and corporate video

     Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL) is engaged in the business of refining of crude oil and marketing of petroleum products. Its principal activities are to refine and market petroleum, liquefied petroleum gas and petrochemical products, including middle distillates, light distillates, lubricants, benzene and toluene. The company’s segments include: Downstream Petroleum and Exploration and Production of Hydrocarbons. Bharat Petroleum was founded on November 3, 1952 and is headquartered in Mumbai, India.

    Bharat Petroleum Heritage

    Early History – Dawn of a New Era

    Do take some time off for a brief interlude with the past, as we take you back in time to the evolution of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. A new chapter in the history of Indian industry.

    Petroleum (derived from Latin Petra – rock and oleum – oil) first came up in wells drilled for salt. People found it useful as illuminating oil and the demand for it steadily increased.

    Samuel Kier, a Pittsburgh druggist, bottled and marketed Petroleum as medicinal cure. To market a deodorised variant, he designed the first primitive refinery in 1852, which was a huge improvised kettle, connected to a metal tank.

    ‘Colonel’ Edwin Drake and ‘Uncle’ Billy Smith drilled a well with the specific objective of finding oil, and on 27th August 1859, they ‘struck oil’ at Titusvale, in North Western Pennsylvania, USA, at a depth of 69.5 ft.

    From Nothing to Gold

    The 1860s saw vast industrial development. A lot of petroleum refineries also came up.

    An important player in the South Asian market then was the Burmah Oil Company. Though incorporated in Scotland in 1886, the company grew out of the enterprises of the Rangoon Oil Company, which had been formed in 1871 to refine crude oil produced from primitive hand dug wells in Upper Burma.

    The search for oil in India began in 1886, when Mr. Goodenough of McKillop Stewart Company drilled a well near Jaypore in upper Assam and struck oil. In 1889, the Assam Railway and Trading Company (ARTC) struck oil at Digboi marking the beginning of oil production in India.

    While discoveries were made and industries expanded, John D Rockefeller together with his business associates acquired control over numerous refineries and pipelines to later form the giant Standard Oil Trust. The largest rivals of Standard Oil – Royal Dutch, Shell, Rothschilds – came together to form a single organisation: Asiatic Petroleum to market petroleum products in South Asia.

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

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    The Pioneering Spirit – Burmah Shell Marketing

    A pioneer in more ways than one, Burmah Shell began its operations with import and marketing of Kerosene. This was imported in bulk and transported in 4 gallon and 1 gallon tins through rail, road and country craft all over India.

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

    With motor cars, came canned Petrol, followed by service stations. In the 1930s, retail sales points were built with driveways set back from the road; service stations began to appear and became accepted as a part of road development. After the war Burmah Shell established efficient and up-to-date service and filling stations to give the customers the highest possible standard of service facilities.

    On 15th October 1932, when civil aviation arrived in India, the company had the honour of fuelling J.R.D. Tata’s historic solo flight in a single engined de Havillian Puss Moth from Karachi to Bombay (Juhu) via Ahmedabad. Thirty years later, i.e. in 1962, Burmah Shell again had the privilege to fuel JRD Tata’s re-enactment of the original flight. Burmah Shell also fuelled flying boats, which carried airmail at slightly higher rates than sea transport, at several locations.

    As a true pioneer would, the company introduced LPG as a cooking fuel to the Indian home in the mid-1950s. And all along, it went beyond selling petroleum, to educate the customer. Besides selling Bitumen, the company pioneered desert road construction, training road engineers. It provided free technical services to industrial customers – big and small – and it became a part of the company’s culture.

    On Stream – The Burmah Shell Refinery

    An agreement to build a modern refinery at Trombay, Bombay was signed between the Burmah Shell group of companies and the Government of India on 15th December 1951.

    Burmah Shell Refineries Limited was incorporated as a private limited company under the Indian Companies Act on 3rd November 1952, and work began on the marshland of Trombay at Bombay. Man and machine worked relentlessly, and soon the swamps gave way to towers and tanks of steel, and miles of pipeline.

    The refinery on 454 acres of land at village Mahul went on-stream on 30th January 1955, one year ahead of schedule. Dr. S. Radakrishnan, Vice President of India, declared the 2.2 MMTPA (Million Metric Tonnes Per Annum) Refinery open on 17th March 1955. It was then the largest refinery in India then.

    With this infrastructure, free India moved one step closer to self-reliance.

    From Burmah Shell to Bharat Petroleum

    On 24th January 1976, the Burmah Shell Group of Companies was taken over by the Government of India to form Bharat Refineries Limited. On 1st August 1977, it was renamed Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. It was also the first refinery to process newly found indigenous crude (Bombay High), in the country.”

    *Information from and

    **Video published on YouTube by “bpclbrand



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