As petrol prices in the country continue to climb on a daily basis, rumour mills are working overtime to console the common man, who is being directly affected due to the rising fuel prices. Recently, a few media reports cited that petrol prices cannot be raised above Rs 99.99 per litre since the dispensing machines do not have the display slots to accommodate the amount.
Currently, most fuel dispensers in the country have a display slot that shows the rate per litre of the fuel. These display screens are usually found below the display screens that show the quantity of fuel dispensed and the bill amount.
The rate per litre is usually updated centrally by the petroleum company and is updated as and when the fuel prices change. Individual fuel stations have no role in this process as the control is centralised.
Speaking to TNM, Shankar, a service engineer of fuel dispensing machines with Indian Oil, said that even if the fuel price crosses the ‘Rs 99.99 per litre’ mark, it will not affect the dispensing of fuel from the machine.
“If the fuel price crosses Rs 99.99, the customer will not be able to fill fuel for an amount but has to go the old school way of filling fuel by the litre. At present, the machines cannot read a value of more than Rs 99.99 a litre. Hence, it cannot dispense fuel for Rs 200, for instance, since it does not know how much one litre of fuel costs,” Shankar explained.
He also added that talks are on among the petrol companies to recalibrate the machines from a four-digit slot to five-digit slot for fuel price per litre. The four-digit fuel price slot includes the decimal value.
BR Ravindranath, the president of Bangalore Petroleum Dealers’ Association, told TNM that it is just the matter of a software and that the companies would develop it in a matter of hours and update the systems.
“If the prices of fuel go above Rs 99.99, it cannot be displayed in the indicator slots of the machines now, since the current slots can accommodate only four digits. But, this feature will not stop the machines from dispensing fuel. Fuel can still be dispensed using some other metric like litres,” he said.
Although normal unleaded petrol in the country is below the ‘Rs 100 a litre’ mark, premium and high octane variety of fuel have breached the Rs 100-mark already. Speed 97 variant of petrol by Bharat Petroleum costs Rs 106.98 per litre in Chennai and Rs 106.09 in Bengaluru.
Shankar added that the sale of the above two variants have not been suspended as the machine’s indicator-display slot is too small to accommodate the value.
Ravindranath also expressed his doubt over normal fuel prices breaching the Rs 100 mark.
“Premium petrol is a different aspect. Most people in India use the normal variant. Since manufacturing new machines and supplying it across the country would be a cumbersome process, I doubt if the price hike would be taken that far,” he added.