BP to boost China retail sites; Shell looks to forecourt automation

Europe's two oil majors ramp up the retail battle for China's fuel and lubes consumers.

UK-based BP has entered a 49:51% joint venture with independent refiner, Shandong Dongming Petrochemical Group, to boost its retail presence in Shangdong, Henan and Hebei provinces.

BP PetroChina fuel station

Sharing success Image: PetroChina

The two companies are set to build a brand which will put 500 retail sites into the regions over a ten year period.

The deal enhances BP's existing 740 sites across Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces, joint-branded with CNPC and Sinopec, which serves 400,000 customers daily with more than 12m litres of fuel.

According to Dev Sanyal, BP’s executive vice president regions: "China offers exciting opportunities for growth for the BP group. Dongming Petrochemical are a strong local partner and we are pleased to be working with them to expand our footprint into Shangdong, Henan and Hebei, which are among the fastest-growing Chinese provinces.”

Meanwhile, Shell is testing new technology jointly funded with China's Alibaba Group and SAIC Motor Corp to automate refuelling and halve the amount of time customers spend at service stations.

With a portfolio of more than 1,300 service stations across the China region, Shell wants to tap into the Connected Car infrastructure to allow consumers to refuel their cars faster through the use of the new technology.  They can also re-fuel themselves, with the technology enabling them to rapid-purchase snacks and other goods from the sites' convenience stores.

The technology is being tested at a single site in Beijing, using Alibaba's Internet of Things platform, AliOS. As the car arrives at the fuel pump, the system is activated, allowing the customer to choose, fill, pay and leave without having to step away from their vehicle.