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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Oil crisis as refineries close for maintenance

Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, July 20, 2014
First Published: 12:30 IST(20/7/2014) | Last Updated: 12:35 IST(20/7/2014)

After coal for the thermal-electricity plants, the north region now is short of petrol and diesel for its filling stations because the oil refineries in Bathinda and Panipat are closed for annual maintenance.

The reservoirs at the filling stations of major suppliers Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum, and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) have not been refilled in the past two to three days. The Panipat refinery caters to the IOC depots across the region, while the Bathinda refinery feeds the HPCL petrol pumps.

“The annual maintenance at Bathinda was planned for later but the management decided to do it early after a unit caught fire on June 20,” said HPCL regional manager Gagandeep Sodhi, adding: “Since the oil supply from Panipat is not coming, we are digging into the own reserves in Bathinda but there is no need to panic, as the Haryana facility is expected to restart anytime,” said Sodhi.

“I haven’t got my stock in the past 24 hours,” said Monty Sehgal, owner of an HPCL filling station in Adampur. “The situation is like living from hand to mouth. On Saturday morning, I booked two tankers but have got only one. Simultaneous shutting down of Bathinda and Panipat refineries is said to be the reason,” he added.

The problem was more severe at Bharat Petroleum, said Punjab Petrol Pump Dealers Association president Paramjit Singh Doaba. “Some of its filling stations are dry for the past few days,” he said. Company sales officer Vikas accepted that closing of the Panipat refinery had affected supply.

“The shortage is also because of the non-cooperation of all the oil agencies,” said Ashok Thapar, a filling station owner from Moga, adding: “The companies have mutual arrangements to cover up shortage in one but they are not using these in case of Punjab.”

Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association president JP Khanna in Amritsar confirmed the shortage at the Bharat Petroleum filling stations in the district.


WHY CLOSED

Panipat refinery is closed for routine mending of the machines; done in July, generally Bathinda refinery shut down on June 20 after fire and a series of explosions in the vacuum gas oil (VGO) treating unit that separates sulfur from crude oil; the flames climbed 40 feet and were visible from the villages around.

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