Private sector protests subsidy pricing

Vol 12, PW 13 (13 Nov 08) News in Brief

Reliance, Shell and Essar have jointly filed a case with the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board alleging unfair trade practices by state-owned firms who sell petrol, diesel and crude oil at below market prices.

Filed under Section 11 (a) of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006, the three companies allege that state oil companies are killing private sector competition in the retail sector. Indian Oil, HPCL, ONGC and Oil India have hit back, saying the Board should not hear the case because it has no legal authority over petroleum products or crude oil.

Both sides concluded arguments on September 23, but a decision is awaited. Some believe the move by Reliance, Shell and Essar is a ploy to force the oil ministry to decide when it will give authority to the Board over petroleum products, even though the PNGRB Act was passed two years ago.

“If the Board decides it cannot hear the case,â€‌ we hear, “private companies can file a lawsuit in the High Court.â€‌