The Indian Oil Corporation on Sunday said India has enough reserves of petrol, diesel and cooking gas to last the three-week period of the countrywide lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. All fuel plants, refineries and supply chain channels across the country are fully operational, the corporation’s chairperson Sanjiv Singh told PTI in an interview.
Singh said that the corporation has mapped demand requirements for all types of fuel in advance and has come up with “robust plans” to ensure the movement of petroleum reserves at upcountry locations.
“Besides all bulk storage points, LPG distributorships and petrol pumps are functioning normally,” he added. “Even in the face of restricted movement of people and vehicles, the Indian Oil Corporation is ensuring loading of fuel at its bulk storage and distribution points with optimised manpower.”
As the nationwide lockdown went into effect last week, daily lives came to a staggering halt with entire businesses upended, establishments shut, and all vehicular and aviation movement banned for 21 days. This, Singh said, has impacted the fuel demand considerably with petrol, diesel and aviation turbine fuel recording negative growth in the month of March.
With almost and cars and two-wheelers going off the road, petrol demand has fallen by 8% in March, while the demand for diesel has been down by 16%. Meanwhile, the demand for aviation turbine fuel fell by 20%, he added.
However, the demand for cooking gas continued to grow, registering a 200% jump since the lockdown came into effect. “The refills of LPG sought by people was a result of panic booking,” the oil corporation chief explained.
Appealing to the public to not resort to frenzied booking of LPG refills, Singh said: “When a customer resorts to panic booking, it puts unnecessary strain on the system, as the requirement is immediately transmitted to bottling locations which make additional refills, transport it to bulk location and onward to the distributor.”
Meanwhile, in light of the lower demands of liquid fuels, the run-rates of refineries in India have been lowered by 25%-30%, Singh said. This means the refineries would be producing up to 30% less of all fuel reserves. “Every barrel of crude oil when processed produces a certain percentage of petrol, diesel, kerosene or aviation turbine fuel and LPG,” he said. “ So, lower processing of crude would result in lower production of all fuel.”
However, to make up for the shortfall in LPG production – the fuel with the highest demand – the corporation has tied up for imports in order to meet requirements at least for the month of April. “We have mapped requirement of LPG for all of April, including the additional demand that would come after the government’s announcement of [providing] free cooking gas for three months to over 8 crore Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries,” the chairperson said, referring to the financial assistance package announced by the Centre last week.
The number of Covid-19 patients who have died in India rose to 25 on Sunday morning – an increase of six since the previous government update. Sixty-one new patients were confirmed across the country, taking the number of cases to 979. Of these, 86 have now recovered.