Petrol, diesel fee reduce: Fitch Rankings says govt transfer on gas costs to influence profitability of oil advertising firms

New Delhi: The federal government directive to state-owned gas retailers to subsidise petrol and diesel could have a damaging influence on their profitability and credit score metrics, Fitch Rankings mentioned on Friday.

Whereas slicing excise obligation by Rs 1.50 per litre, the federal government had on Thursday requested Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) to soak up Re 1 per litre improve in gas charges.

Fitch, nonetheless, mentioned the rankings of the three companies might be unaffected as they’re pushed by state assist.

The rankings of BPCL and IOC are equalised with the sovereign, whereas that of HPCL is aligned with its guardian, Oil and Pure Fuel Company Ltd (ONGC).

Petrol station. Representational picture. Reuters.

“The federal government decreased the costs of petrol and diesel by Rs 2.50 per litre on four October, 2018 in response to fast will increase for the reason that begin of the yr – the diesel worth in Delhi, for instance, has risen by 27 p.c.

“Excise obligation on these fuels has been reduce by Rs 1.50, however the state oil advertising firms (OMCs) have been directed to bear the price of the extra Re 1 per litre,” Fitch mentioned.

Gas costs will proceed to be adjusted day by day relying on future market strikes, however the margins earned by OMCs have successfully been narrowed, which quantities to an implicit subsidy for customers, it mentioned.

“The fuel-price discount additionally highlights the regulatory dangers for Indian OMCs because of rising crude oil costs and the weakening rupee,” it mentioned. “The elections due in 2019 additional improve the danger of worth controls if crude oil costs proceed to rise or the rupee depreciates additional.

India liberalised gas costs in 2014 and moved to day by day revision in gas costs in June 2017.

Fitch believes that any additional reversal of those fuel-price reforms might be damaging for the OMCs’ monetary profiles and will have an effect on the funding local weather within the sector.

The federal government has additionally requested the state governments to chop native taxes to additional cut back gas costs.

“We estimate that the Re 1 per litre reduce absorbed by the OMCs will push up their web leverage (web adjusted debt/ EBITDAR) by 0.5x to 1.5x on an annualised foundation, with the influence highest for HPCL, given its bigger share of earnings from advertising operations.

“Within the case of HPCL and IOC, the discount in earnings will add to debt necessities to fund massive ongoing capex,” it mentioned.

Rising crude costs and the depreciating foreign money are additionally growing the working capital necessities of OMCs, driving up debt ranges.

Fitch expects HPCL’s web leverage (together with proportionate consolidation of HPCL-Mittal Power Restricted) to rise to three.0x-3.5x for the yr ending March 2019 (FY19) and deteriorate significantly thereafter if the brand new coverage is saved in place by way of FY20.

This might considerably cut back the headroom out there to HPCL’s present standalone profile of ‘BB’. “We anticipate BPCL’s web leverage (together with proportionate consolidation of Bharat Oman Refinery Restricted) to extend modestly to past 2.5x and that of IOC to achieve 3x throughout FY19,” it mentioned.

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