The oil PSU officers' strike is over, but commuters might face long lines in petrol stations for some more time. Petrol dealers, in anticipation of a fuel price cut, are storing limited stocks of petrol and diesel from the oil companies. Same for the distributors of cooking gas (LPG) cylinders. As a result, several pumps are running out of stock well before closing time.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora has indicated several times that the government is mulling a price cut in petrol and petroleum products, but there is no clarity on the timing of the cut. He has indicated that the price of petrol may be reduced up to Rs 5 a litre, Rs 3 for diesel and Rs 20 to Rs 25 for a LPG cylinder.
Ajay Bansal, the general secretary of All-India Petroleum Traders told the Hindustan Times that the petrol pump dealers, who were earlier buying 50,000 to 60,000 litres of petrol and diesel daily, are now buying no more than 15,000 to 20,000.
“The average stock capacity of a petrol pump is around one lakh litre of petrol and diesel each. If we stock the fuels to our normal capacity, and the price reduction is announced, a petrol pump might lose up to Rs 10 lakh daily. Nobody can afford to bear such losses even if it means less sales for few days,” he said.
Cautious buying by dealers is eventually hurting the sale of petroleum products by the three state-owned oil marketing firms — Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp.
Confirming the move from petrol dealers, a senior oil company executive said, “Dealers do not want to be saddled with high cost inventory stocks, which they may have to later sell at a lower price. This has resulted in a sharp drop in sales of petroleum products by the oil companies.”