New Delhi, Jul 15 (UNI) Petroleum Minister Murli Deora today said the decision to ban opening of new petrol pumps by public sector oil marketing companies (OMC) for the next two years was taken to avoid undue competition among them and was not connected with losses suffered by these state-run companies.
Addressing mediapersons here, Mr Deora said his Ministry issues time-to-time directions to the OMCs to maintain healthy competition.
However, it does not mean that the opening of new petrol pumps is banned forever, he said adding that this will have no impact on the supply of petroleum products.
''We have to keep in mind that the petrol pumps lie at a certain distance from each other to avoid undue competition,'' Mr Deora said.
The oil companies have accepted the Ministry's decision to not open any new petrol pumps in the next two years, he said.
This step was being seen in the light of the losses being incurred by these firms as the global crude oil prices soared, while the cap in domestic prices remained.
The public sector oil companies have about 35,000 petrol pumps across the country.
Among these, the biggest company, Indian Oil Corporation, runs about 17,500, while the rest are owned by Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.
Reliance and Essar also opened petrol pumps across the country, but had to shut down due to heavy losses.
Asked about the tax on the windfall gains of private oil firms, Mr Deora reiterated that this issue does not fall in the ambit of his Ministry.
He said any decision on sharing the losses of the OMCs will be taken after the B K Chaturvedi Committee submits its report.
UNI MP SR RAI1946