Amit Mitra

Mumbai, Feb. 2

STRAINING to look out of your car window to ensure that the petrol pump attendant is filling up right can sometimes produce a crick in your neck. But not anymore if, that is, you are at Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) station.

As part of its efforts to create a distinct identity in petro-retailing, NRL has developed a new look `energy station' that, among other things, offers head-up viewing.

Customers driving into NRL stations can sitting in the car watch on screens positioned in front of them the filling operation - the quantity and the rates.

Not just this, the screens displaying advertisements will be an entertainment source for co-passengers and a revenue-earner for the retailers.

BPCL, which owns 63 per cent stake in NRL, has developed this new concept to create a "retail visual identity' for the NRL brand.

The first such energy station was launched at Kaziranga in Assam last week, and 500 more are to be set up all over the country in phases.

As competition in the Indian oil sector revs up, petro-retailing is undergoing discernible changes, with PSU oil majors as well as private players such as Reliance and Shell coming up with new designs and value-added services at their outlets.

While Reliance has set up outlets twice the size of the biggest pumps of the PSU oil companies, Essar is seeking to add a new splash of colour to petro-retailing.

ONGC is expected to come out with new formats, with the company hiring the services of National Institute of Design to design its outlets.

NRL energy station would also offer automatic bill print-out, scrolling messages for safety, quality and quantity awareness and dedicated fuelling bays for high-value customers.

Another feature is the `Quopou' section, which is an art and crafts shop to promote and bring the rich handicrafts of the North-Eastern region to the rest of India through the NRL outlets.

"The cardinal objectives are quick and pleasurable fuelling, optimal utilisation of customer time, innovative facilities to attract diverse customers and self-sustaining revenue earning resources," according to an official of BPCL's Engineering and Projects division.

The new outlets will be innovatively lit. The external illumination will highlight the canopy profile and project the oval-shaped NRL signage logo, with top-horn lighting beckoning customers from far.

"The lighting will ensure 96 per cent of daylight quality with sparkling white light illumination compared to 65-70 per cent in standard outlets," the official said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 3, 2005)
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