"There has been some reduction in gasoline rates (against which the domestic price of petrol is benchmarked against) giving us some margins (on petrol). But they have moved up again in the last few days. Also, rupee has appreciated against the US dollar...we have to take a view (on prices) keeping all these factors in mind," said RS Butola, Chairman of Indian Oil Corp, the nation's largest fuel retailer.
The oil companies were making a margin of close to Rs 2 per litre, but considering the impact of rise in gasoline rate and appreciation in rupee, the net available margin may be just around Re 1 per litre. "We will review (prices) in next few days...may be at the end of the week or early next week," Butola said.
The government had in Jun 2010 deregulated petrol prices giving oil companies freedom to fix rates in line with the cost. However, prices have seldom moved in line with cost and oil companies buckled under political pressure to keep rates checked to help the government manage inflation.
Butola said IOC lost Rs 1,167 crore on selling petrol below cost during the first six months of current fiscal. And since the product is deregulated, there will be no subsidy support from the budget to cover these losses. Hindustan Petroleum Corp Director (Finance) B Mukherjee said, "We are making profit on petrol like any other free product."