The surge in crude oil prices on the international market, potentially nearing $90 per barrel, poses significant challenges for India, a nation heavily reliant on imports to fulfil 80% of its fuel needs. Brent crude oil prices are currently hovering around $88.28 per barrel, with expectations of further escalation due to global risks and supply disruptions.

The impending meeting of oil-producing nations, particularly OPEC, scheduled for april 3, 2024, is anticipated to influence the trajectory of crude oil prices shortly. JP Morgan's forecast predicts a climb to $90 per barrel by May, accelerated by Russia's decision to curtail crude oil production, potentially manifesting sooner than expected.

OPEC members have been consistently reducing crude oil output, with march 2024 production dropping to 26.42 million barrels per day, down by 50,000 barrels per day from February. Further declines in production, anticipated in april, are exacerbating the upward pressure on crude oil prices.

India's domestic concerns are amplified by this price surge. Despite recent reductions in petrol and diesel prices by government oil marketing companies, possibly influenced by upcoming lok sabha elections, increased crude oil prices threaten to raise operational costs for these entities. 

However, political considerations may prevent the immediate transfer of these costs to consumers, potentially amplifying losses for oil companies. Moreover, the risk of inflationary pressures looms large, especially for industries reliant on crude oil as a primary raw material, such as paint manufacturers.

The reserve bank of india (RBI) is bracing for the implications of rising crude oil prices as it convenes for a three-day monetary policy meeting commencing on april 3. While the RBI aims to manage inflationary trends, the unexpected surge in crude oil prices presents a formidable challenge, potentially complicating monetary policy decisions.

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