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Companies including Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation will have to bear a loss of up to Re 1 per litre on sale of diesel and petrol, the people said asking not to be identified as the matter is private. Shares of Indian Oil fell as much as 7.6 per cent on Tuesday, the most since November 2016 in intra-day trading, while HPCL lost as much 8.3 per cent.
The government wants to keep oil prices under check to shore up popular support ahead of a series state elections this year. India, which imports more than 80 per cent of its annual crude oil requirement, wants to see prices at about $50 a barrel in order to manage its finances better, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in an interview.
A cut in excise duty on fuel prices is unlikely due to sluggish revenue collections on the back of a botched rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the people said. The oil ministry has been asked to prepare subsidy payments at different price points in case of a further run up in oil prices.
HPCL is not aware of any directive from the government to absorb a part of the losses from higher crude prices, the company’s chairman, M. K Surana, said on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum in New Delhi.
While Modi has reaped the benefits of the biggest price crash in a generation since coming to power 2014, oil is recovering as the government gears up for elections in 2019. Since hitting a low of $ 27.1 per barrel in 2016, Brent crude is currently trading around $70 level.