Deora rules out immediate fuel price cut

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Noida, Sep 17 (UNI) The government today said it will consider slashing fuel prices only if average cost of the crude oil imports falls sharply to 67 dollars per barrel.

''We welcome the reduction in oil prices but still public-sector companies are losing money. The day when the prices fall to 67 dollars per barrel, it can be considered,'' Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora told reporters here.

The government has, over the last two weeks, denied any plans of price cuts as crude prices softened globally.

Looking at the the upcoming General elections, industry analysts feel the government, which is battling high inflation, would be inclined to cut fuel prices.

Inaugurating a three-day Geo India 2008 Conference&Exhibition of Geologists and Geophysicists, Mr Deora said the fall of the Indian currency was partly offsetting the gains of cheaper crude as the rupee cost of oil was increasing.

He assured the consumers of adequate supply of petroleum products such as LPG and kerosene, in the coming festive season.

Commenting on the waiting list of LPG connections, Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey said it will be cleared by this month-end and there will be adequate supply of petroleum ''The LPG waiting list of nearly eight lakhs, a month ago, has been reduced by half to 3.9 lakhs at present and the balance will be wiped out by the end of September 2008,'' Mr Pandey said.

Reviewing the supply situation of petroleum products in the country in the wake of ensuing festival and winter season, Mr Pandey said, ''The oil marketing companies should maintain adequate stocks of LPG in the coming months...it is the period when the demand for petroleum products rises substantially.'' Mr Pandey also called for concentrating on more exploration and production efforts for hydrocarbons in view of the precariously balanced supply-demand situation.

The Secretary emphasised the need for giving a push to the research and development in order to harness fuels of future such as gas hydrates, coal bed methane and hydrogen.

Mr Deora has called upon the public and the scientific community to come forward with innovative ideas and suggestions so that hydrocarbon fuels are used more efficiently and effectively.

The Minister emphasised the need for adding more hydrocarbon reserves and for stepping up the efficiency in production specially in the light of country's heavy import dependence for crude oil which stands at more than 70 per cent of domestic requirement.

He pointed out that hydrocarbons account for about 45 per cent of the country's total energy requirement.

Referring to the scope for increasing domestic production, Mr Deora said about 75 per cent of the total estimated hydrocarbon resources of about 32 billion tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas still remains to be explored in Indian business.

He also stressed upon the need for utilising alternative sources of energy and called for improving oil recovery factor from existing fields.

Minister of State for Petroleum&Natural Gas Dinsha Patel also emphasised the need for increasing crude oil production, particularly in the light of the country's import dependence and the rising global oil prices.

Mr Patel urged upon the oil technologists to make concerted efforts in this direction.

Currently, the under-recoveries on kerosene stands at Rs 36,000 crore, Rs 23,000 crore on LPG cylinder and Rs one lakh crore on diesel.

GEO India 2008 has been jointly organised by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and Association of Petroleum Geologists (APG-India).

It is being supported by the Society of Petroleum Geophysicists (SPG-India) and Society of Petrophysicists and Well Logging Analysts (SPWLA-India).

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