Billionaire Ambani Sends Oxygen From His Refineriees to Aid India’s Covid Fight
(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is diverting oxygen produced at his refineries to help India battle a savage coronavirus outbreak that’s paralyzed the commercial capital as daily new infections spike by a record.
Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., which operates the world’s biggest refining complex in western India, has started supplying oxygen from Jamnagar to Maharashtra at no cost, according to a company official, who asked not to be identified due to internal policy. The western state will get 100 tons of the gas from Reliance, Eknath Shinde, urban development minister, said in a tweet.
India is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that has caught the federal and state governments unprepared, with local media reporting that patients are dying due to a shortage of oxygen and hospital beds. Maharashtra state is home to the financial hub of Mumbai where the fresh outbreak is most severe, and where Ambani officially resides and Reliance has its headquarters.
Reliance is diverting some oxygen streams meant for its petroleum coke gasification units after making it suitable for medical use, the official said. A company spokesman couldn’t immediately comment.
Separately, state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp. has built up a stockpile of 20 tons of medical-grade oxygen at its Kochi refinery in southern India that can be readily offered, the company said in an emailed statement. It previously supplied 25 tons of oxygen for medical use.
Bharat Petroleum can further supply about 1.5 tons of oxygen daily from the Kochi plant, where it has a unit that can produce medical-grade oxygen, according to the statement.
Refineries can produce limited volumes of industrial oxygen in air-separation plants meant for nitrogen production. Medical-use oxygen can be extracted by scrubbing out other gases, such as carbon dioxide, to make it 99.9% pure.
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