Economy

COVID-19 lockdown: Auto fuel consumption less than halves; no shortage of stock, say oil majors

New Delhi | Updated on March 27, 2020

But demand for LPG cylinders sees an increase as people stay put at homes

The demand for petrol and diesel has halved as the lockdown cross the country entered the third day on Friday.

MK Surana, Chairman and Managing Director at Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, said: “Petrol sales are down to 45 per cent while diesel sales are at 40 per cent compared to an average day. Sales may reduce further as the lockdown continues and there are lesser people on the roads.”

“Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) sale has completely been stopped as airlines have stopped operations. But the demand for LPG is strong as more consumers stay at home,” Surana told BusinessLine.

Surana said that HPCL would be reworking it’s operations in line with the demand for fuels.

“We are committed and completely geared up to ensure that requirements of essential commodities like LPG, petrol and diesel for the general public and essential services are fully met . There is no shortage of any of the products . On the contrary, we are required to regulate refinery throughput to account for tapering demand,” he said.

“The Vizag refinery is operating at 100 per cent capacity while the Mumbai refinery is running at 80 per cent. The throughput regulation is to ensure that refineries are not shutdown considering future demand tapering and at the same time we have storage space for the products,” Surana added.

IndianOil has already regulated crude oil throughput at most of its refineries by 25-30 per cent.

Petrol pump operators also said there was a fall in sale of auto fuels. “There has been a substantial fall in petrol and diesel sales from pumps. This is a double whammy for dealers because the retail outlets have to be kept open as a provider of essential commodity to cater to emergency services,” said Uday Lodh, President of the Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association.

“This leads to expenses on account of manpower and operations. No sales gives no income. There is also an inventory build-up that won't be cleared since product sales have fallen, leading to stuck up working capital,” Lodh added.

Surana said in order to keep the fuel product supply chain functional during lockdown, HPCL is taking extraordinary measures. One such measure the company is undertaking is supporting truck drivers during the lockdown period by offering food packets so that they get some relief.

No shortage of stocks: IndianOil

Meanwhile, Indian Oil Corporation has assured consumers that there is no shortage of essential products. Customers are advised not to panic, or resort to hoarding and panic-buying, it said adding that its terminals and depots, LPG distributorships and fuel stations are well-stocked up with petrol, diesel and LPG.

In a statement, IndianOil said that its operating locations — bulk storage points, LPG distributorships and fuel stations — are functioning normally under the advisory of their respective State Governments/local administrations for maintaining essential services of petroleum products to the public.

As compared to that of auto-fuels and ATF, the demand for LPG has seen a marginal increase in March (as on date) vis-a-vis LPG demand in February, it said adding that “For the past 10 days, IndianOil has been delivering on an average 25 lakh cylinders every day to the doorsteps of its customers.”

“Despite crude cuts, IndianOil refineries are maintaining LPG production close to normal levels by optimising LPG yields with higher severity operation of their main LPG producing units, that is, FCCU and Indmax,” the statement said.

The company advised its LPG customers to not to resort to panic-booking or visit the showrooms and godowns of their LPG distributorships for obtaining refills.

Bookings for LPG refills can be done through SMS/IVRS, WhatsApp (75888-88824) or online (IndianOilOne mobile app or https://cx.indianoil.in )or @Paytm.

It further requested the customers to make digital payments wherever possible to avoid unnecessary handling of currency notes in view of the pandemic. The LPG emergency helpline number 1906 is also fully operational.

All 119 Aviation Fuel Stations of IndianOil across the country are operating with optimum strength and full safety precautions to meet the aviation fuel (ATF) needs of Defence aircraft, cargo flights and medical ambulances.

Published on March 27, 2020

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