Auto fuel prices are on the upswing in the country with the pump price of petrol set to breach all-time high levels next week.

The oil marketing companies (OMCs) on Sunday increased the retail price of petrol by 28 paise per to Rs 83.41 a litre in Delhi. Similarly, diesel price also increased by 29 paise a litre to Rs 73.61 a litre.

With this, the current price of petrol in Delhi is just about 60 paise short of breaching the all-time high level of fuel of Rs 84 a litre reached on October 4, 2018. Given the rate the daily increase by OMCs, the milestone may be achieved early next week.

Across the country as well, the retail price of petrol is very close to all-time high levels and will breach the mark this week if retail prices continue to rise daily. In Mumbai, the all-time high petrol price was Rs 91.34 a litre recorded on October 4, 2018. The retail price of petrol there now is Rs 90.05.

The all-time high petrol price in Chennai and Kolkata has been Rs 87.33 and Rs 85.80 a litre and the current prices are Rs 86.25 and Rs 84.90 a litre respectively.

Ironically, the consistent increase in retail prices of the auto fuels — petrol and diesel — over the past fortnight taking it closer to all-time high levels comes at a time when the crude prices are almost USD 30 a barrel less than what was in October 2018, when petrol prices reached all-time high levels last.

Global crude prices have firmed up recently over the news of successful coronavirus vaccine. It has risen almost USD 10 a barrel in the last one month to reach closer to USD 50 a barrel now. But even at this level, it is far less than the average crude price of USD 80.08 a barrel in October 2018 when petrol prices reached a high of Rs 84 a litre in the Capital.

With Sunday’s increase, fuel prices have now increased on 14 of the past 17 days as the petrol price rose by Rs 2.35 per litre and diesel by 3.15 a litre. Petrol price had been static since September 22, and diesel rates hadn’t changed since October 2.

Though retail pricing of petrol and diesel has been deregulated and oil marketing companies were following a daily price revision formula, the same was suspended for almost two months to prevent volatility in international oil markets from impacting fuel prices regularly during the pandemic.

But with crude on the boil again on news of a successful coronavirus vaccine launch soon, the patience was lost by OMCs who finally resorted to a price increase to cover for their under-recovery on the sale of two petroleum products.

The benchmark Brent crude has crossed USD 48 a barrel on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) lately. It has remained over USD 44 a barrel for the most part of November.

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