No plans to increase petrol, diesel prices: Reddy

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Panipat, Feb 15 (PTI) The government has no plans toincrease petrol and diesel prices even though internationalcrude rates have touched USD 100 per barrel, Oil Minister SJaipal Reddy said here today.

"We are not at the moment thinking of increasing prices,"he told reporters here.

The spurt in international oil prices means that statefuel retailers will end the fiscal with around Rs 80,000 croreof revenue losses on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosenebelow cost.

"... the oil marketing companies are facing a burden ofthe order of Rs 80,000 crore (and) may be Rs 100,000 crore(this fiscal)," he said.

Even in case of petrol, whose price fixation was freedfrom government control in June last year, there is noproposal to raise prices just now, Reddy said.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum andHindustan Petroleum, who have raised petrol prices seven timessince June last year, currently sell petrol at a loss of Rs1-2 per litre.

"At the moment, there is no proposal on table of oilcompanies to increase price of petrol," he said, adding publicopinion cannot be ignored even in free market.

Reddy said half of the revenue loss fuel retailers incuron selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene would be met bythe government by way of cash doleout. Another one-thirdwould be contributed by upstream firms like ONGC.

The rest will "somehow be digested by oil marketingcompanies," he said.

Oil Secretary S Sundareshan said of the Rs 46,000 crorerevenue loss on fuel sales in the first three quarters thisfiscal, the government provided Rs 21,000 crore and upstreamfirms contributed one-third.

Reddy said he hoped the Finance Minister will cut customsand excise duty on crude oil and products in the Budget toease the burden of rising global oil prices.

Earlier, dedicating the Indian Oil Corp'' naphtha crackercomplex to the nation, he said the nation needs to find moreoil to cut its reliance on imports to meet demand.

India currently imports 80 per cent of its oil needs.

The cracker, that produces raw material for makingplastic, went on-stream in March last year but it was formallyinaugurated only today.

Speaking on the occasion, Sundareshan said the nation''soil refining capacity will jump up to 240 million tonnes inthe next two years from the current about 187 million tonnes.

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