Auto sales continue to chug along

Despite rising fuel prices, hikes in product prices and a tight interest rate regime, the automobile sector has managed to turn in a decent performance

According to a study by KRChoksey (Institutional Research), the country's automobile sector has managed to turn in a decent show, despite the steady increase in fuel costs, the tight monetary regime adopted by the Reserve Bank of India and hikes in vehicle prices by almost all manufacturers.

In the two-wheeler segment, TVS Motors posted the highest growth rate supported by strong demand across segments-especially mopeds. Hero Honda sold more than 5 lakh units for the third consecutive time. The manufacturer has reached the 1-million landmark in two months of the current fiscal, says the report. Bajaj Auto's numbers were boosted by export growth and its motorcycle segment also put in a good show.

In the three-wheeler segment, Bajaj and TVS continued their upward trend. Bajaj Auto has gone in for capacity expansion and it aims to sell around 45,000 units of its three-wheelers on a monthly basis. TVS is planning to follow suit and increase the export of its three-wheelers. Rural demand, a (possible) timely monsoon and minimal impact of increase in interest rates on two-wheelers have brightened the prospects for the two-wheeler industry, says KRChoksey. But in the four-wheeler segment, sales were disappointing in May. Maruti Suzuki posted flat volume growth in May (its exports dropped 13% year-on-year). Tata Motors registered strong growth, thanks to its commercial vehicle sales. With rising Indian per capita income, export prospects and planned capacity additions, the outlook for this segment remains positive, says the study.

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Number of visitors to travel sites up 32% in the past year to 18.50 million

Indian Railways, MakeMyTrip and Yatra Online lead the pack of most-visited sites

According to comScore, a digital survey firm, the number of visitors to travel sites has gone up by 32% in the past year to 18.5 million, as more Indians turned to the Internet for their travel needs. "The online travel category continues to show strong growth in India," said Kedar Gavane, director (India), comScore. "The convenience of booking trips and locating travel information online continues to appeal to many users, especially among India's young Internet population. As the online travel industry matures, it will be important for brands to provide increasing functionality, ease of use and security to its users to effectively compete in this growing market."

According to the comScore survey, in April 2011, 18.50 million online users visited a travel site from a home or work location, an increase of 32% from the previous year. Indian Railways was the most-visited travel destination with 8.40 million visitors, an increase of 8% from the previous year. MakeMyTrip reached nearly 3.90 million visitors (up 63%) followed by Yatra Online with 3.5 million visitors (up 82%) and ClearTrip.com with more than 2.10 million visitors (up 80%). US-based Expedia Inc secured the 5th position with 1.80 million visitors (up 12%).

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Petroleum drilling industry expects increased demand in coming years

India’s demand for petroleum and natural gas is expected to go up, leading to an increased demand for drilling rigs and related services. Despite massive imports, India will continue to look for energy resources within the country. So we expect to see an increased demand,” Jubilant Enpro deputy general manager (business development) Anand Vatsa said

Mumbai: The drilling industry expects a healthy rise in demand for its services based on continuous and strong demand for petroleum and natural gas in the country, reports PTI.

“India’s demand for petroleum and natural gas is expected to go up and correspondingly, there will be an increased demand for drilling rigs and related services. Despite massive imports, India will continue to look for energy resources within the country. So we expect to see an increased demand,” Jubilant Enpro deputy general manager (business development) Anand Vatsa said at a recently concluded petroleum industry summit here.

According to a Jubilant presentation, ONGC is estimated to drill around 150 shallow water wells in the next five years and would have to engage around eight to ten chartered rigs per year in the mid-term.

Besides this, Jubilant expects around 40-50 exploratory wells to be drilled in the east coast in the next three years.

“Exploration activities in the Andaman Islands have been initiated. The entry of British Petroleum, BHP and ENI will increase demand for drilling services. Around 17 to 18 chartered hired jack-up rigs would be required,” he said.

Petroleum industry experts also seem to agree with Jubilant Enpro’s assessment.

“Most of the wells to be drilled on the west coast will be shallow water wells. I would put that figure at around 120 wells. Besides this, wells would also have to be drilled in the east coast. So drilling contractors and rig charter companies seem to have a good opportunity,” ONGC’s former director (exploration), DK Pande, told PTI.

Jubilant also estimates the likely deployment of four to five deepwater floaters in the offshore sector.

“Recent discoveries at RIL’s NEC and Krishna-Godavari blocks may result in long-term intensified drilling activities from 2013 onward, with expected drilling requirements of around 80 wells.

“Also, after ongoing appraisals, ONGC’s forward development plan for Krishna-Godavari and Mahanadi are expected to result in an incremental drilling programme of around 50 wells from 2014-2015. Besides, deep water blocks awarded under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) VIII and IX are expected to further maintain the drilling momentum from 2014 onward,” Mr Vatsa said.

An industry expert from a leading private petroleum company also concurred with these figures.

“Exploration of these blocks is already on. So I would say that these figures are not unrealistic at all, technically speaking. But this would depend on how fast ONGC will take decisions and act on them. If it does so, then Jubilant’s assessment seems to make sense,” the expert said on condition of anonymity.

As per Jubilant’s estimates, India now has a strong offshore drilling industry and has one of the three largest jack-up deployments in the world, with 27 rigs, including those owned by the ONGC.

“Operators including ONGC and British Gas are keen to increase the number of high specification rigs to drill extended reach wells from existing as well as newer platforms.

There would be incremental demand for deepwater and ultra deepwater rigs from 2013-2014 onward. However, the lower-end of deep water drilling below 6,000 feet would continue to be a major chunk of the market,” Mr Vatsa said.

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