Private fuel marketing companies such as Jio-bp and Nayara Energy have advised their retailers to keep their pumps open and not display a dry out signboard, and also increased fuel prices to discourage sales, retailers told.
The move comes after the government on Friday brought all petrol pumps under the universal service obligation (USO), mandating that they must maintain supplies at reasonable prices during their specified working hours.
Petrol pump operators spoke with said Jio-bp and Nayara have increased fuel prices between 2 and 7 per litre.
Fuel marketers have been making a loss on each litre of petrol and diesel they sell as state-run firms have not increased retail prices for almost two months despite rising crude prices in international markets. To minimise their losses, private players cut supplies to dealers and kept prices higher to discourage customers, industry insiders said.
On Friday, the government brought all private fuel operators under USO amid reports of long queues outside several state-owned companies' pumps in some states. Pump operators, however, said this will only increase their costs - for keeping pumps operational - while sales will remain low due to higher prices.
"This move by the government helps little. The company has increased diesel price by 5 a litre and petrol price by 7 a litre. Who will come to buy fuel from us at this price?" a Jio-bp retailer said on the condition of anonymity. "Whatever little fuel supplies we get from the company, now that may also be not sold."
Jio-bp and Nayara Energy did not respond to an email sent on Saturday till press time Sunday.
"We have been asked not to barricade our outlets and that company officials will be visiting our outlets to keep a check," another retailer of a private fuel marketer said. Nayara retailers have been selling fuel at a premium of 2 per litre over state-owned marketers' prices.