India's second largest petroleum company, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is planning to invest Rs. 200 crore for the purpose of automation of over 1,000 retail outlets by March 2007.

The company will also complete the vehicle tracking system for around 20,000 trucks by the end of the financial year, a top IOC official said.

Speaking at the inaugural function of its first comprehensive automated retail facility in Mumbai, Sarthak Behuria, chairman, IOC, said, The automated facility by the company is to provide value-added services to customers. The major benefits of automation are speedier transactions, easier billing and reduced refuelling downtime. The newly launched automation facility will greatly reduce the time that busy urban customers need to spend at the retail outlet, fuelling their vehicles.

The spiralling prices of oil worldwide has resulted in severe shortfall in realizations of the oil companies including IOC. We managed to counter this problem by adopting new technologies, he said.

Presently, IOC is incurring loss of Rs. 3-4 per litre of petrol and Rs. 6-7 on diesel and the loss is Rs. 120 per cylinder of LPG, Behuria added.

Domestic oil industry has suffered losses of Rs. 70,000 crore of which Rs. 28,000 crore is waived through duty cuts and the government has issued oil bonds worth of Rs. 24,500 crore to the public sector companies.