Govt rules out immediate hike in oil prices

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New Delhi, Oct 10 (UNI) Ruling out any immediate hike in fuel prices Petroleum Minister Murli Deora today said that the government is committed to protecting the interest of the common man by ensuring that the impact of surging global oil prices is shared by the domestic Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) whose under recoveries is expected to touch Rs 52,500 crore in 2007-08.

'' The government is closely monitoring the prices of petrol, diesel, PDS kerosene and domestic LPG,'' Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said here at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Talkin on the global oil prices Mr Deora said it will continue to be volatile and the Indian basket of crude oil touched a high of 77.20 dollars per barrel as on September 21.

There has been no revision in the prices of fuel in spite of consistent rise in international oil prices following softening of prices post August 2006.

The Minister said that the under-recoveries of public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) is expected to be about Rs 52,500 crore during this fiscal.

The Government along with oil PSUs shared most of the burden of rising oil prices during 2006-07. The Government issued oil bonds worth Rs 24,121 crore to OMCs to partly compensate them for under recoveries on these products while upstream companies shared Rs 20,507 crore of the burden.

The Minister also directed all three CMDs of PSU Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs)- IOC, HPCL and BPCL to ensure adequate availability of cooking fuels, specially in view of the ensuring festivals.

He asked the three PSUs to set up full proof systems to meet the demand and to have a quick response to any breakdown in supply at local level that may occur.

Simultaneously, the Minister has directed Petroleum Secretary to increase vigilance to curb hoarding and diversion of these vital household fuels, specifically during this festival season.

Mr Deora also elaborated other recent initiatives of the Government including approval to the proposal of Oil India Ltd for fresh equity issue of 10 per cent of its paid up capital through Initial Public Offer(IPO).

Approval was also given for issue of additional one per cent of OIL's paid up capital to the employees along with divesting 10 per cent in favour of OMCs (IOC, HPCL and BPCL in the ratio of 2:1:1 respectively).

Further, he informed that 46 oil and gas discoveries have already been made in the 162 blocks contracted under the first six rounds of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

These discoveries are located in Cambay onland, North East Coast and Krishna-Godavari deep water areas for which development plans by the operators are in progress. In respect of gas discovery by RIL-NIKO in KG basin is likely to commence from June, 2008.

Important suggestions were made during the meeting to further improve working of the oil sector PSUs. These include suggestions for developing latest infrastructure to train oil and gas personnel, removing malpractice in distribution of domestic LPG along with ensuring its availability.

Streamlining the process of dealer selection, offering more blocks under NELP-VII from North East, initiative for gas supply in the eastern parts of the country, in encouraging R&D for alternative energy was also discussed.

UNI

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