Shell India shifts gears for electric future | Autocar Professional

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Shell Plc’s Indian operations are shifting gears to navigate the evolving energy landscape. The oil and gas giant is deploying a multi-pronged strategy to mitigate the potential decline in demand for traditional fuels as India transitions to cleaner options.

One key thrust, as per the company’s top executive, remains electric mobility. Even as the company’s mobility division is working on setting up a dense grid of over 10,000 charging points across the country by the end of the decade, its lubricant division is also working on battery thermal management fluid lubricants tailored for electric vehicles in India, the company’s top leadership stated.

“The key R&D initiatives include developing next-generation engine oil formulations for fuel efficiency and emission reduction to meet evolving regulations,” remarked Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricant, in an interaction with Autocar Professional. “We are working on battery thermal management fluid lubricants tailored for electric vehicles in India,” he added while elaborating on some of the key development work being taken up by his team. 

Looking beyond India’s borders, Shell India’s leadership emphasises its ability to leverage existing technological expertise. They can readily import “flex” or biofuel technology from their established operations in Brazil and Indonesia. This adaptability allows them to offer alternative fuel options as demand dictates.

Nagpal spoke on the sidelines of Shell Lubricants India’s unveiling of its upgraded portfolio of Shell Advance motorcycle oils on Friday. The company launched the upgraded portfolio in limited-edition packaging featuring brand ambassador Shahid Kapoor, continuing their partnership on the Rukna Mushkil Hai brand campaign. The new Shell Advance AX7 Synthetic Technology oil offers consumers an extra smooth ride with its innovative flexi-molecule technology, thereby ensuring the most effective power transfer from the engine to the wheels.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is another pillar of their strategy. The company also fully owns and operates an LNG re-gasification terminal at Hazira, Surat. In addition, Shell India has also established an LNG truck-loading unit to supply natural gas to customers across the country.

Lubricant market to grow at 3-4% CAGR
Shell India’s specific efforts should be seen in the context of the company’s internal studies, which suggest the lubricant industry in the country, which stands third in the world in terms of volumes after the US and China, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3-4% per year. Last year, India consumed 3.2 billion litres of lubricants. Amit Ghugre, Chief Marketing Officer, Shell Lubricants India, said, ” Growth will vary across sectors depending on inherent demand and dynamics”.

Shell India, with over 13,000 employees and a presence across upstream, integrated gas, downstream, and renewable energy, has deep capabilities in research & development, digitization, and business operations.

Growth across the sectors
Furthermore, talking about the growth in off highway and mining segment, Nagpal noted that India is witnessing a period of significant growth across various sectors.  One such sector is infrastructure, which encompasses construction, mining, and related industries. This growth has a cascading effect on the cement,  metals, and other segments. Consequently, lubricant demand is also rising in tandem with this overall growth.  “Growth in infrastructure is driving overall growth across sectors in India, which is benefiting lubricant demand,” Nagpal added.

Talking about the company’s manufacturing capacities, Nagpal and Ghugre stated that the company’s current lubricant blending plant at Taloja is sufficient to meet the existing as well as growth demand for the next few years.

Looking ahead 
Shell India’s multi-pronged approach acknowledges the inevitable shift towards cleaner energy sources. By offering a mix of charging infrastructure, LNG solutions, potentially adaptable fuel technologies, and EV-specific lubricants, they aim to secure a foothold in the new energy paradigm.

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