Two weeks after oil minister said petrol price would ease out, has it really fallen?

By: | Published: September 30, 2017 1:28 PM

The international retail fuel markets seem to have a mind of their own, as far from falling, petrol price have actually risen further over the last two weeks, when minister Dharmendra Pradhan said it will fall in the coming days. But why might have the consumers not noticed.

A worker counts Indian currency at a petrol pump in the northeastern Indian city of Siliguri February 5, 2008. India is set to raise retail petrol and diesel prices this week for the first time in 20 months, a senior oil ministry source said, as the government risks political capital to ease losses at state oil refiners. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA)

A little over two weeks ago, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan had said that the retail fuel prices would ease out in few days, ostensibly to calm the nerves of the public reeling under the double whammy of costlier food, and prices of petrol and diesel which were hovering at about three-year highs. Despite the growing clamour for government intervention to bring down fuel prices, the minister had categorically refused to interfere in day-to-day functioning of oil marketing companies.

The sudden rise in the retail fuel prices was seen due the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on the international fuel markets, Dharmendra Pradhan had said then, adding, that an analysis of the global trends indicated that petrol and diesel prices would likely ease out in the days to come. However, it seems like the international retail fuel markets have a mind of their own, as far from falling, petrol prices have actually risen further since then. Once again, consumers might not have not noticed it because of the small doses of daily increase.

Since September 13, petrol price in Delhi has risen by 28 paise per litre, and is at Rs 70.66 per litre in the capital as of today, September 30, 2017. As for the price of diesel though, the rise has been far moderate at just 14 paise per litre; it’s a rise nevertheless, not fall. Diesel is being sold in Delhi at Rs 58.86 per litre today. The price of petrol in Mumbai at Rs 79.77 per litre today is near the levels last seen in August 2014 in the country’s financial capital. Similarly, the price of diesel is at three-year highs in the metro cities of Kolkata and Chennai at Rs 61.52 and Rs 62.00 per litre respectively.

Retail fuel prices in India have gradually aligned with the global crude oil prices and international retail fuel markets since the government freed up petrol pricing from its control seven years ago. The price of petrol was under the government control when the crude oil was at its peak. Biting the bullet, the government deregulated the price of the fuel from its control in 2010, allowing the oil refining and marketing companies to set it in line with the market dynamics, specially crude oil prices. Then, earlier this year, the government introduced dynamic fuel pricing on June 16 — a mechanism for revising retail fuel prices daily across the nation in conjunction with the change in the crude oil prices.

Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said earlier this month that the deregulation of retail fuel prices — beginning with petrol in 2010 and diesel in 2014 — and then the shift to daily revision in June 2017, is a consumer-friendly approach, and in their best interests.

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