Government has asked India's top oil producer Oil and Natural Gas Corp to drop plans to sell petrol and diesel and focus on finding more oil and gas.
However, the company has been permitted to complete already approved refinery projects.
Petroleum Ministry and the new management of the state-owned exploration and production giant reviewed its business initiatives, especially non-core ones at a day-long Business Plan Review meet in Gurgoan on the out-skirts of the national capital on Saturday.
"The message was very clear - ONGC should no more set up petrol pumps," a company official said.
ONGC currently has one petrol pump at Mangalore and had identified 45 locations from Dehradun to Ahmedabad for opening shop this year. ONGC and its subsidiary MRPL had plans to raise the number of outlets to 1100 by 2008 as part of its plans to diversify into downstream and liquefied natural gas imports to become an integrated oil and gas company with a turnover of $50 billion within the next few years.
"We were told that since fuel retailing is a loss making proposition (government has not allowed fuel retailers to raise petrol and diesel prices in line with rise in cost of production), ONGC should focus more on its core competence," he said.
However, the ministry represented by its secretary MS Srinivasan and two joint secretaries at the meeting, allowed ONGC to complete the ongoing expansion of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) to 15 million tonnes.
The official said there was no word on the new refineries at Barmer in Rajasthan, Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and a greenfield refinery adjacent to the existing MRPL.