Govt doing its best not to hike crude prices: Deora

Singapore, Jan 12 (PTI) Indian Petroleum Minister MurliDeora today said the government is trying its best not to hikeprices of fuels like diesel, but is faced with a challengingtask due to the unpredictable movement of crude oil rates ininternational markets.

"We want the people of India to get fuel at the rightprices," he said at a press conference in Singapore when askedabout a likely increase in diesel rates in light of a surge inglobal crude prices.

"We are hopeful of finding a right solution to thecurrent situation of diesel prices," Petroleum Secretary SSundareshan added.

The assurances from India''s top energy officials comeamid a surge in oil and energy costs across the globe.

Diesel, kerosene and LPG prices are politically sensitiveand remain a major concern for the Indian government, which isalready combating high inflation and a steep rise in prices ofessential agri-commodities like onions.

The Indian government also faces the challenge ofderegulating or setting market-driven prices for diesel, LPGand kerosene, having done so with petrol prices.

Deora, who is in Singapore to launch a roadshow for theninth round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-IX)tomorrow, also gave an assurance that crude oil supplies fromIran to Indian refiners like MRPL will not be held up over theongoing payments row.

A mutually acceptable payment method is being worked outbetween the Indian and Iranian governments, he said, addingthat a breakthrough is expected early next week.

A high-level Indian delegation led by an AdditionalSecretary in the Finance Ministry and comprising bank andenergy industry officials will visit Tehran this weekend toresolve the payment issue.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to ship crude to Indianrefineries based on the guarantees given by the oil companies,Sundareshan told reporters at the press conference.

Sundareshan ruled out any possibility of a disruption incrude supplies from Iran, stressing on the good workingrelationship between Iran and India. In this regard, he saidresolution of the deadlock on crude oil payments in a non-USdollar currency was only a matter of time.

Deora also said the issue of Vedanta Resources Plc buyinga stake in Cairn India Ltd would be resolved in the comingweeks.

He also clarified that the ministry has neither objectedto, nor supported the acquisition of a majority stake byVedanta in Cairn and a decision can be expected next month.

Taking questions from the audience, he said ONGC Videshwill continue to seek assets overseas, including in Vietnam,which has "very good relations" with India. .

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