Petrol and diesel prices may go up from October 16 by up to Rs 0.65 and Rs 1.60 per litre respectively even though Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said on Thursday that the government would take a final decision on Friday.
"We have time till tomorrow," Aiyar told reporters after an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when asked if petrol and diesel prices would go up to offset the spurt in international crude oil prices which reached a historic high of over 54 dollars a barrel.
"I have had the opportunity of discussing various dimensions of the issue of petroleum product prices with the prime minister. We reviewed the possible options but since a decision is not required to be taken today, we will continue consultations on some of the nuances (of raising prices)," Aiyar said.
Petrol and diesel prices, which have remained unchanged since August 1 despite a 30 per cent jump in raw material prices, are due for review on October 15 as per the mechanism of fixing prices every fortnight.
New prices, if revised, would be effective from midnight of Friday.
Aiyar, who refused to say if prices would be increased, added that oil marketing companies would announce their decision by Friday evening.
However, on September 30, instead of waiting for the oil companies to make any announcement, Aiyer had gone ahead and told reporters that there would be no change in oil prices, immediately after meeting the prime minister.
Industry sources pointed out that Aiyar's silence indicated that there would be a hike in petrol and diesel prices.
"The hike was not announced today as it might have led to petrol pumps going dry with dealers hoarding the stocks they have now, so as to sell them at higher rates later."
Sources said Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and IBP together lost Rs 2273 crore (Rs 22.73 billion) in the first six-and-half months of the current fiscal on selling petrol and diesel below the international price.