Petroleum minister asks oil companies to cut prices of petrol and diesel

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VARANASI: Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday asked Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to cut the retail prices of petrol and diesel if the crude oil prices in the international market come down and also if OMCs’ under-recoveries come down.

Puri was talking to the media during a function to flag off a CNG-driven boat race on the river Ganga here. The event was organised as a run-up to ‘India Energy week’ which will take place next month in Bengaluru. “Oil marketing companies should cut down prices once international prices are stabilised and they have managed to recover under-recovery”, he said.

In layman’s parlance, under-recovery refers to selling fuel below the cost prices. Oil Marketing Companies incurred a loss of Rs 21,200 crore on account of selling petrol and diesel below the cost price. Though Oil Marketing Companies are free to revise product prices based on economics, in practical terms, political considerations are also important in the revision of prices.

Hardeep Singh Puri also claimed that prices of petrol and diesel have been under check, despite volatile prices of the Indian crude basket. “One reason for keeping prices of petrol and diesel under check is the reduction in taxes. The central government revised the taxes twice between November 2021 and May 2022. Prices of petrol and diesel have not been revised since May 22, 2022, when the Finance Ministry cut central excise duty followed by a reduction in sales tax by many states”, he noted.

“During this period, on one hand, prices of brent crude have come down to $88 a barrel now from a high of $139 in March, on the other hand, India is increasing imports from Russia. Both of these have a combined impact on the overall fuel import bill, but losses are still there, which seems to be the reason why oil marketing companies are not able to cut the prices”, he said.

A senior oil marketing company official said, “We are earning a gross profit on petrol and it is in single digit. However, during the last 15 days, due to cracks, petrol profitability has been affected. However, diesel sale is still on gross loss and it is in double-digit.”

The gross amount of loss or profit for the third quarter will be known, once the oil market companies declare their result in the coming days. (ANI)

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