Indian Oil Cuts Refinery Output As Fuel Demand Evaporates
Employees refuel customers’ vehicles at an Indian Oil Corp. gas station in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg)

Indian Oil Cuts Refinery Output As Fuel Demand Evaporates

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With flights being suspended and vehicles staying off the road due to nationwide lockdown, India's largest oil firm Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. on Wednesday said it is cutting down the output of its refineries by at least one-fourth to keep fuel production in line with the demand.

IOC, however, vowed to keep continue uninterrupted supplies of petrol and diesel for automobiles and cooking gas for households. In a statement, IOC said the demand for petroleum products like petrol, diesel, fuel oil and bitumen has reduced substantially in the aftermath of restrictions placed on movement to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

The demand for aviation turbine fuel has also come down sharply due to the suspension of flights. "Keeping this in view, IOC has regulated crude oil throughput at most of its refineries by 25 percent to 30 percent," it said.

"Upliftment of finished products from them in the last one week has helped upcountry bulk storage locations of the corporation build up their stocks for future-readiness once the countrywide lockdown is lifted and the demand picks up again." IOC said it is keeping a close watch on global cues and the changing market scenario and initiating actions accordingly.

"In the midst of a reduction in demand for major petro products, there has been an increase in demand for liquefied petroleum gas. To meet the rising demand for LPG, IOC is taking steps to increase LPG production in its major refineries by optimising operations, improving LPG yield in LPG producing units like FCC/Indmax, etc." it said.

Bottling plant operations and LPG refill deliveries are being streamlined accordingly. The Emergency Service Cell number 1906 for LPG customers is operational as usual. "Adequate stocks are available and there is no need for panic-booking by LPG customers," the company which controls roughly half of the Indian fuel market, asserted.

The company said it was committed to ensuring emergency fuelling across all permitted modes. "The Corporation's bulk storage installations, LPG bottling plants, fuel stations, and LPG distributorships have been advised to operate under the advisory of their respective state governments/local administrations to maintain essential services in their geographies," it said.

"The fuel stations (petrol pumps) are operating with skeletal staff to ensure personal hygiene and social distancing norms." IOC said it has taken several precautionary measures with special emphasis on the health and safety of its employees, service providers, contract work-force, petrol pump dealers and customer attendants, LPG distributors, and delivery boys.

A high-level committee has been formed to deal with all matters related to Covid-19, which has streamlined the working at the firm's non-critical locations with work-from-home norms to ensure proper social distancing norms. "However, adequate work-force is being deployed at critical refining, supply and distribution locations, with all health, hygiene and safety measures in place," it said adding deployment of contract labour is being done only in essential and critical services at a bare minimum.

Adequate care is also being taken with respect to the tank-truck drivers transporting petroleum products to petrol pumps. Video-conferencing is being used extensively for meetings with internal as well as external stakeholders.

Also read: Indian Ports in Chaos as Virus Lockdown Hits Operations

In the wake of a three-week countrywide lockdown, IOC said it is addressing several issues related to movement and turnaround time of fuel tank-trucks; restricted mobility and attendance of work-force at LPG distributorships and fuel stations; and restricted business hours of fuel stations at a few places.

"Despite the many constraints, IOC remains committed to ensuring fuel availability for its esteemed customers and emergency services while taking all the necessary precautionary measures," it added.

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