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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Petrol, diesel to go dearer from tonight

Petrol and diesel prices will go up by Rs 0.50 a litre from midnight tonight in 13 big cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, where cleaner Euro-IV grade fuel will be supplied from tomorrow, a government official said on Wednesday.

Petrol price in Delhi will go up by Rs 0.50 per litre to Rs 47.93 a litre and diesel by Rs 0.26 to Rs 38.10 a litre on account of supply of cleaner Euro-IV fuel, the official said but did not wish to be identified.

Thirteen big cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Surat, Ahmedabad, Pune and Sholapur will move from Euro-III grade fuel to Euro-IV from Thursday. Rates will vary from city to city depending upon local taxes.

The rest of the country will switch from Euro-II specification fuel to Euro-III in phases, beginning with Goa from Thursday. Sale of Euro-III grade will be phased over the next 5-6 months.

Euro-III petrol will cost Rs 0.26 a litre more and same grade diesel Rs 0.21 per litre, the official said, adding the rates will differ from city to city.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was approached by the Petroleum Ministry for clearance, had yesterday approved of the price hike.

Oil companies had invested Rs 40,000 crore in putting up facilities to produce cleaner fuel and the prices have been increased to make up for the cost.

This will be the third hike in diesel rates for Delhi in less than a month and the second for petrol. Petrol price was raised by Rs 2.71 and diesel by Rs 2.55 a litre from February 27 as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee hiked excise and customs duty on the two fuel. Diesel rates went up by Rs 2.37 on March 23 when the Delhi government raised VAT on the fuel.

Euro-IV grade auto fuel prescribes to European emission standards that define acceptable limits for vehicle exhaust emissions for member states of the European Union. It is less polluting since it restricts the presence of sulphur in the fuel: sulphur is present in 50 parts per million (ppm), as opposed to sulphur in 550-350 ppm as sold in earlier.

The Euro IV standard specifies a maximum of 50 parts per million of sulphur in petrol and diesel. Euro-III fuel specifications call for a maximum of 350 parts per million of sulphur will be sold in the rest of the country.

The official said oil firms could not have absorbed the cost of producing cleaner fuel as they lose about Rs 250 crore per day on selling auto and cooking fuel below cost. Retailers IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum currently lose Rs 6 per litre on petrol, Rs 4.06 a litre on diesel, Rs 16.91 per litre on kerosene and Rs 267.36 per 14.2-kg LPG cylinder.

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