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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oil companies - Making losses or PROFITS

Regularly, we hear the hue and cry from oil companies making losses and their demand to increase petrol/diesel prices. Especially, oil PSUs take front stage in this rally to increase prices of petro products. Making losses is a very ugly reason to raise prices in a competitive business. When private players can afford to make huge profits without raising prices, it's a matter of shame for the PSUs to beg for their alterations.

The issue lies not in prices but unnecessary operating expenses lavished by careless government officials. It's not the prices but the system and culture prevalent in these companies that requires change. Our largest refining and marketing company IOC, controlling 50% of the country's diesel market and 45% of the petrol market reported a loss in the third quarter. For the first nine months of FY06, net profit stood at Rs. 890 crore against a net profit of Rs. 3,998 crore for the same period in FY05. Company's director marketing, NG Kannan said,
"Indian Oil will lose Rs 5,000 crore on the sale of petroleum products, even
after taking into account government subsidies, oil bonds and cross-subsidy
payments by upstream oil companies."

Private players like Reliance, spearheaded by Ambanis have shown impressive growth in the same period eating into IOC's market share. Despite of constant pressure being put on the Govt. for price raise, I have never seen any negative figures in their balance sheets. Is this cry only fictitious to make more internal profits for the babus to enjoy? If it is real, then Govt. should insist on them following efficient, sound and proven practices to cut-cost, while learning lessons from private companies.

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