PSU oil companies have deferred a planned Rs 2.26 a litre hike in petrol and Rs 1.78 increase in diesel. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL) revise rates, particularly when a price cut is necessitated, on 1st and 16th of every month based on average international price in the previous fortnight. But an increase that was warranted because of a rise in international gasoline (petrol) price to USD 62.82 per barrel from USD 57.43 and that of diesel to USD 60.97 from USD 56.79 was deferred on Friday.
The surge in international price, which was moderately tempered by strengthening of the rupee to Rs 68.05 from Rs 68.23 a dollar, had necessitated Rs 2.26 a litre hike in petrol and Rs 1.78 in diesel, officials said. This increase was excluding local levies. The actual hike after considering VAT would have been about Rs 2.90 per litre and the same for diesel would have been Rs 2.10.
Petrol in Delhi currently costs Rs 66.10 a litre and diesel Rs 54.57. Rates were last revised on December 1 when petrol price was hiked by a marginal 13 paise a litre, but diesel rates were cut by 12 paise. IOC Chairman B Ashok justified the deferment move, saying “it is not compulsory” to change rates on a particular date. “We continue to review it and will take appropriate decision at the right time,” he said. “Price revision is being done in a calibrated manner.”
Stating that global prices are volatile, he said there are lots of changes happening around. “We need to take an overall view and then calibrate our views.” Prior to the December 1 price change, rates were hiked by Rs 1.46 a litre in the case of petrol and Rs 1.53 per litre for diesel, excluding local levies, on November 16.
Industry sources said the deferment may be for a day or two as Parliament is in session and any hike would have added to the discomfort for the government, particularly when it is facing heat over hardships caused by currency demonetisation. The Winter Session of Parliament ends today and rate revision may follow soon, they said.