Since prices are on the freeze since April 6, private operators had curtailed sales in some parts of the country to rein in rising losses. This prompted the government, battling high inflation, to expand the scope of universal service obligation (USO), forcing Jio-bp and Rosneft-backed Nayara to maintain sales at all petrol pumps, including in rural areas and ensure availability of fuel to the consumers at a “reasonable price”.
As on March 2022, there were 82,176 retail fuel outlets in the country of which 73,838 belonged to the public sector retailers such as Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum (BPCL).
“The difference of selling price of transport fuels between the public and private pumps has narrowed down to just Rs 1.5-2 per litre,” the official said.
In a statement issued on June 15, the Centre admitted that customers’ wait-time at fuel stations in some specific areas, particularly in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, has indeed increased because of “big increase in instances of rush”, but that is mainly due to unprecedented demand surge, as high as 50%, in the first fortnight of the current month compared with the same period a year ago.
“The shift in demand led to the supply shortfall in specific areas. With the private sector pumps are running at near full capacity, the problem is no longer there,” the official said.