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Ensuring energy security main priority: Deora

Deora's priority would be to ensure supply of subsidised LPG and kerosene to the vulnerable and poor people of the country.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 18:08 IST

Nursing back loss-making oil PSUs and aggressively pursuing oil fields abroad for ensuring the country's energy security are the main priorities of the newly-appointed Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.

Deora, who was accompanied by his predecessor Mani Shankar Aiyar when he took office, said on Monday thathis priority would be to ensure supply of subsidised LPG and kerosene to the vulnerable and poor people of the country.

"Some of the policies will continue and some of the policies may need change. We will discuss them," he said. He said losses made by public sector oil firms on sale of LPG and kerosene were of concern and he would look for a solution to addressing the subsidy issue.

Deora said he was in favour of subsidies on kerosene and LPG but this should not affect the financial health of Navratna public sector firms.

"Navaratna public sector companies should be encouraged. They have been bleeding under the burden of huge subsidies they pay on LPG and kerosene. My priority would be to address the issue," he said.

Public sector firms currently bear a loss of Rs 12 on sale of a litre of kerosene and over Rs 130 per LPG cylinder as government has not allowed the prices of the two mass consumed cooking fuel to be raised despite the subsidy it provided falling way short of the cost of production.

Deora indicated that he would take up the matter with Finance Minister for increasing government subsidy on the two fuel or lowering of duties to provide some comfort to the oil companies, which have for the first time in their history gone in red this fiscal.

An Economics Graduate, who has been involved with the issue of energy since the time when Morarjee Desai was the Prime Minister, Deora said he wanted to nurse public sector firms back to health but at the same time also encourage private sector.

"We need private sector companies. I will provide a level playing field to both," he said. "I will protect PSUs and encourage private sector."

Deora said acquiring oilfields abroad was a good strategy for securing energy security for the country as some of the assets acquired by ONGC Videsh Ltd have already paid-back the investment.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 13:18 IST