With global crude oil dipping below $67 per barrel, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora on Thursday said the government will decide within a week what prices oil retaining companies should charge for transport and cooking fuels.
"The matter is being examined and an announcement will be made within a week," Deora told the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, while replying to supplementaries during the question hour.
He said the oil cartel, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), was meeting in Vienna on Friday to decide their future course of action. "We are watching the situation," Deora said.
The minister's reply, however, left the entire opposition dissatisfied, resulting in their walking out of the house.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Brajesh Pathak asked whether the government would subsidise diesel and kerosene as the oil ministry had given relief to the civil aviation industry.
The crude oil prices in the international market soared to a record $147.27 a barrel in July and fell below $67 a barrel in October. But the oil ministry had announced Wednesday that it had no plans to cut oil and gas prices in the country.
The opposition also said that the crude oil prices in the international market had fallen more than 50 percent and wondered why, in such a scenario, it was difficult for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to reduce oil prices in the country.
Deora said even though the prices of crude had, indeed, fallen, oil marketing companies were still incurring losses because of the depreciation in the value of the rupee.
According to oil industry experts, the OPEC meeting in Vienna may result in the cartel deciding to cut crude production between 2-2.5 million barrels a day because of slowing demand, which may push up prices.
In this scenario, they did not expect a major cut in prices by Indian oil retailers, even though the prices of Indian basket of crude is hovering around $61 per barrel at present.