HPCL Faces Grim Market Outlook, Envisions Normalcy to Restore by the Next Quarter
The Q2FY21 performance of India’s refining and oil marketing company, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) is yet to revive as the country is still grappling to come out of the unprecedented crisis of times. As per a renowned private rating agency, the company’s outlook is currently standing negative, hit by a slump in its marketing volumes by around 18% in FY21 before rebounding in FY22 with gradual recovery expected following the COVID-19 outbreak. The company’s fuel sales are still below the pre-pandemic levels affected by disrupted mobility and economic activity, with slight uptick in demand anticipated in the upcoming festive season which may support fuel sales in Q3FY21. Weak petrochemicals demand and curtailed gross refining margins (GRMs) have pressured the company’s sales of petroleum products in India which showed a V-shaped recovery in April-June quarter, but fell nearly by 4-8% sequentially over July-August, due to re-establishment of lockdowns in certain cities leading to slower industrial activity. Mukesh Kumar Surana, Chairman & Managing Director, HPCL stated in an interview mentioned that the demand for petrol and LPG has reached its normal level and diesel is almost 92-93% and will move towards normal with construction and industrial activities picking up in the upcoming quarter. The company has gained benefit from low oil prices in its marketing segment, without transferring the full cost to its consumers. The factor which is likely to turn the outlook positive is its largest shareholder ONGC's vertical integration strategy from which it looks forward to receiving exceptional support in case it faces financial difficulties in future.