With the Assembly elections weighing heavily on its mind, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Jaipal Reddy ruled out any hike in retail price of petrol and diesel for the time being.
The global crude oil prices continue to rule at the uncomfortable level of $110 a barrel. State-run Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited currently sell petrol, decontrolled in June last year, at a discount of about Rs. 4.50 a litre to its imported cost.
Diesel, whose price is still controlled by the government, is being sold at a loss of Rs. 15.79 a litre a day.
``I think oil companies must be watching global markets, which is today characterised by unusual volatility. They will in good time take a view,’’ Mr. Reddy told reporters here.
Asked why the deregulated price of petrol has not moved in tandem with the international cost, Mr. Reddy said as far as petrol is concerned, there is no doubt it is decontrolled. Oil companies must be watching global markets and will take studied decision on raising prices, he added.
On the issue of diesel, he said it is too early to call a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to decide on raising rates.
``Everybody is busy with electioneering. Let us wait for some time,’’ he said.
The basket of crude oil that India buys has averaged $110.61 per barrel this month as against $72-73 a barrel at the time of the last revision in diesel prices in June, 2010.
The oil marketing companies (OMCs) hiked petrol price by Rs. 2.50 on January 15. Since deregulation of rates in June, the rates have gone up about Rs. 7 per litre in five instalments to Rs. 58.37 per litre.