Royal Dutch/Shell is leading a charge by western petroleum companies into the fuel retailing markets of central and eastern Europe.
Shell already accounts for 8% of the market by volume, while western companies control a total 22% and during the next 5 years will increase their share significantly at the expense of indigenous independent retailers.
These are the findings of Datamonitor plc, London, which predicted that Shell would become central and eastern Europe`s largest fuel retailer by 2003.
By 2003 western oil majors are forecast to account for 30% of the market, and by operating the highest-throughput outlets they will achieve this while controlling only 15% of the region`s retail stations.
Datamonitor said the western firms will expand their growing networks through anticipated privatizations and by acquiring smaller players.
Independents are expected to see their market share fall from 48% now to 42% by 2003, at a time when a demand growth rate of 4%/year will enable ambitious network expansions by western firms.
Conoco Inc., for example, is reportedly planning to double the size of its retail chain in Poland and the Czech Republic by 2003.