The government is exploring various options, including a marginal hike in prices of petrol and diesel, and a possible duty cut to ease burden on state-run oil firms that are increasingly losing revenue due to global crude prices surging close to $100 dollar a barrel.
"We will do all that is possible to protect the interests of our PSUs," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said after a brief meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue today.
Deora said the issue could not be discussed at length due to paucity of time and a separate meeting may have to be convened next week to discuss the matter.
"A decision may take two-three days," he said, but did not rule out the possibility of a price hike. "I cannot say that (prices will not be increased)." Deora is also believed to have briefed UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the scenario emerging from international crude oil prices touching USD 96 a barrel.
When the Cabinet had on October 11 decided on sharing the burden of Rs 54,935 crore arising from not raising petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene prices between the government and PSUs, the Indian basket of crude was averaging USD 68-69 a barrel.
However, the Indian basket is now trading at over USD 85 per barrel, widening the revenue loss of Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum by nearly Rs 7,000 crore.
The state-run firms are currently incurring Rs 240 crore loss per day on sale of petrol, diesel, LPG (cooking gas) and PDS kerosene.