Petrol prices drops but stock fast depleting in bunks

CHENNAI APRIL 15. The biggest drop in petrol and diesel prices announced today since the dismantling of the administered pricing mechanism (APM) for petroleum products could well be a case of so near, yet so far to the consumers in the city, thanks to the ongoing strike by truckers.

The drop of Rs.1.08 on a litre of petrol (the new price is Rs.35.48) and Rs.1.10 (Rs.23.55) for the same quantity of diesel might well mean little to them as many petrol bunks in the city are running low on stocks.

"Majority of the retail outlets did not get fresh supply since yesterday and the possibility of stock outs at many of the bunks could not be ruled out on Wednesday, if loads are not delivered", said M. Kannan, Vice-President, Federation of All India Petroleum Traders. The new price, announced this evening by the national oil companies, comes into effect from Wednesday morning.

This is the major drop in the prices of the automobile fuels after the national oil companies moved to the new system in April last under which petrol and diesel prices were fixed in tune with the prevailing global rates.

While there was a 20 paise reduction in petrol and diesel prices on August 16, the next drop was 75 paise per litre on November 16 and the last time it was revised downwards on December 1, the prices came down by 60 paise in the city.

The national oil companies, according to a senior executive of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, however, are "trying their best to avoid such a situation" by dispatching the products in their own oil tank trucks with police protection.

A senior official of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation, playing down the possibility of a dry out said, "panic buying of petrol was not reported from any of the outlets. Anyway, most of the outlets have two-days cover (stocks)", which according to sources among the dealers is running out fast.

But, in the event of stock-outs it would be the petrol-driven vehicles that would be seriously affected as diesel "is available in plenty", thanks to the strike, an oil industry source said. Today's reduction in the fuel prices comes in the backdrop of the major protest of the truckers - against the frequent revision in diesel prices.

Otherwise, the second day of the indefinite strike by the cargo transporters resulted in further escalation in vegetable prices in the city, while fruits and eggs prices, according to the retailers, started their movement upward.

While LPG distributors' complaints of no fresh supplies from the bottling plants continued today leading to a build-up in the waiting list for cooking gas refills, for other vehicles on the roads it was yet another day of smooth motoring.

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