Editorial : Slippery slick: On Centre’s oil policy

After a sharp(तीव्र/स्पष्ट) fall at the beginning of the year, oil prices have risen dramatically(नाटकीय रूप से) in recent weeks. The price of Brent crude(कच्चा तेल) has risen by around $10 since it touched a short-term low of around $62 in early February, hitting(पहुंचना) its highest mark since late 2014. Tensions in West Asia after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to strike Syria helped push up prices. But it is important to separate(अलग) short-term volatility(अस्थिरता/परिवर्तनशीलता) in oil prices owing to geopolitical tensions from longer-term trends(रुझान) in the oil market. In its latest market report, the International Energy Association (IEA) noted that with oil prices ruling over $70, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has
accomplished(निपुण/”पूरा किया)” its goal of ending the glut(भरमार) in global oil supply. Notably(विशेषकर), OPEC cut production by around 201,000 barrels(पीपा) a day in March compared to February. Yet, total world oil supply actually rose by 180,000 barrels a day in March, as output from non-OPEC countries, including the U.S., has been increasing in response to higher oil prices. IEA executive director Fatih Birol said last week that the next wave of shale supply may be in the offing as oil prices have remained high for some time now.
In India, rapidly(शीघ्रता ) rising international crude oil prices have failed to push local petrol and diesel prices upwards in equal measure(माप/सीमा). The retail selling prices of petrol and diesel across major Indian cities have in fact risen by less than a rupee since the beginning of April. That is, they are not in sync with the upward rise in crude oil prices. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for more ‘responsible’ oil prices, which he said have been in “roller coaster” mode for too long. Oil prices, he argued(तर्क दिया/उलझ जाना), need to factor in the interests of both consumer and producer. This assertion(अभिकथन), along with the talk of allying with China and other Asian countries now to buy oil from OPEC members at lower prices, would have held more weight if the government’s actions matched the sentiment(भावना/विचार). It has imposed high duties on petroleum products ever since crude oil prices started moderating(मध्यस्थता/शांत करना) in 2014, but has been reluctant(अनिच्छुक/असन्तुष्ट) to scale down those duties in the face of rising prices, leading to record pump level prices. This clearly doesn’t benefit the consumer. Now, with the general elections about a year away and critical Assembly polls in Karnataka just a month away, the Centre is being cautious(सतर्क/चौकन्ना) not to have higher oil import costs passed on to consumers. This flies in the face of the pricing freedom it had ostensibly(जाहिरा तौर पर) granted to the oil marketing companies and packaged as a major deregulation(अविनियमन) reform. So its stance hasn’t benefited the producers either, as is reflected(प्रतिबिंबित) in their falling stock prices. How the Centre responds to rising international crude oil prices was always going to be the litmus test of its commitment to fuel price deregulation. In the current situation, it appears that the government has only tied itself up in knots over the petroleum pricing policy, and with it, its reformist(सुधारक)credentials(परिचय पत्र/प्रत्यय पत्र).

Important Vocabulary
Synonyms: acute, pointed, razor-sharp, sharpened, stinging
Antonyms: blunt, dull, aboveboard, benevolent, bland
Synonyms: direction, movement, tendency, aim, bearing
3.Rapidly(शीघ्रता )
Synonyms: briskly, expeditiously, fast, immediately, promptly
Antonyms: slowly, sluggishly, leisurely
4.Argued(तर्क दिया/उलझ जाना)
Synonyms: contend, disagree, dispute, quarrel, quibble
Antonyms: agree, concur, give in, make peace, abstain
5.Moderating(मध्यस्थता/शांत करना)
Synopnyms: abate, alleviate, constrain, cool, curb
Antonyms: aggravate, develop, enlarge, expand, extend
Synonyms: afraid, averse, cautious, circumspect, hesitant
Antonyms: bold, careless, certain, confident, definite
7. Cautious(सतर्क/चौकन्ना)
Synonyms: circumspect, discreet, judicious, leery, prudent
Antonyms: careless, certain, foolish, inattentive, incautious
Synonyms: enlightened, flexible, humanistic, lenient, permissive
Antonyms: intolerant, limited, narrow, specific, conservative
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