Mumbai: Private fuel marketing companies such as Jio-bp and Nayara Energy have advised their retailers to keep their pumps open and not post a dewatering sign, and have also hiked fuel prices to discourage sales , retailers told ET.

The move comes after the government on Friday placed all petrol pumps under the universal service obligation (USO), requiring them to maintain supply at reasonable prices during their specified working hours.

ET petrol pump operators spoke with Jio-bp and Nayara raised fuel prices to between ₹2 and ₹7 per litre.

Fuel traders have suffered a loss on every liter of gasoline and diesel they sell as state-owned companies have not raised retail prices for nearly two months despite rising crude prices in the markets international. To minimize their losses, private players cut dealer supplies and kept prices higher to discourage customers, industry insiders said.

The government on Friday placed all private fuel operators under USOs amid reports of long queues outside the pumps of several state-owned companies in some states. Pump operators, however, said it would only increase their costs – to keep pumps operational – while sales would remain weak due to rising prices.

“This decision by the government is not helping much. The company has raised the price of diesel by ₹5 per liter and the price of petrol by ₹7 per litre. Who will come and buy us fuel at this price?” said a Jio-bp retailer on condition of anonymity. “Whatever little fuel we get from the company, it may also not be sold.”

Jio-bp and Nayara Energy did not respond to an email sent on Saturday until press time on Sunday.

“We have been asked not to barricade our outlets and that company officials will visit our outlets to carry out a check,” said another private fuel distributor retailer.

Retailers in Nayara sell fuel at a premium of ₹2 per liter to state-owned merchant prices.

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