Varanasi: Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan denied predicting when petrol and diesel prices will come down and said pressure is building on oil producing countries to increase production.
“No one can predict the rise or fall in petroleum prices. After massive drop in demand during Covid-19 crisis, the oil producing countries had reduced production to 10-12 million barrels in May 2020 from 100 million earlier,” Pradhan said while talking to reporters at circuit house here on Saturday. “When demand started increasing they were asked to increase production and had assured to do so by February. They did not increase production leading to demand-supply imbalance and increase of price,” he added.
LPG consumption increases massively in Europe during winter and falls after March-end following which prices are likely to dip, said Pradhan.
The cascading effect on other sectors is natural, but the tax component is not being disturbed as the government has to spend Rs 35,000 crore on Covid vaccine and development spending has increased 32% this year.
Being the third largest energy consumer country, all efforts are on to rein in oil prices, he said.
“We are in talks with the US, Russia, Kuwait, Qatar and Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and are building pressure to increase oil production,” said Pradhan. The process for ensuring CNG availability across UP is on while LPG connections would be provided to the one crore families which did not get the benefit of Ujjwala scheme, he added. The piped natural gas (PNG) supply has started in 403 cities and will be available in over 500 cities in 2022-23.
The pilot model of converting diesel boats into CNG-fueled boats has started in Varanasi with a target of 2,000 boats, said Pradhan, who also inspected the CNG station at Khidkiya Ghat for fueling boats.