State-run oil companies appear to have abandoned the two-year-old practice of revising prices of petrol and diesel daily.
Companies didn’t alter fuel prices half the time in the past three months and kept rates of petrol and diesel the same for several days in a row on many occasions without any apparent reason, an analysis of the pricing data has shown.
Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, which control nearly 90 per cent of the fuel retail market, began revising fuel prices daily from June 2017, a shift from the fortnightly rate-setting practice they had followed for about three years.
In the two years since, companies have mostly followed the daily price revision schedule, except during elections when apparent political pressure kept prices stable irrespective of the movements in the international market.
But in the three months from June to August, companies kept rates of petrol and diesel unchanged on 43 and 47 days, respectively, according to an analysis of price data available on the Indian Oil website. Pump prices vary by a few paise per litre between three state-run oil companies while price changes are usually the same.
In one instance in June-August, price of diesel was static for 13 straight days, and that of petrol for 8 days. On nine occasions, prices of diesel were unchanged for four or more days in a row. For petrol, there were eight such instances.
Indian Oil, BPCL and HPCL didn’t respond to ET’s emailed queries till press-time. “All pricing decisions are taken by oil marketing companies only,” the oil ministry said in its response.
Fuel prices have always been politically sensitive in India and it’s hard for state-run companies to raise rates many a time even though there is no formal state control on prices. Which is why the government and companies pushed for daily price revisions, hoping small rises in daily revisions would escape consumers’ attention, and diminish chances of backlash.
Their hopes were dashed when sharp price rises prompted consumer protest on several occasions as well as government interference in the past two years.
State-run oil marketing companies run both refineries and fuel retail stations. Retail prices are a combination of the so-called refinery gate price, marketing costs and marketing margins. Refinery gate price is equal to the international fuel rate plus freight and insurance, all converted in rupees.Share This