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Oil PSU strike cripples India, fuel pumps go dry

The talks between the Govt and oil PSUs failed late on Thursday night without any positive result. Petrol pumps across the nation are running out of stock as the strike continues for the third day.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Noida/new Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 09, 2009 12:56 PM IST

A large number of petrol pumps across the country went dry as the indefinite strike by oil PSU executives entered the third day on Friday, with possibility of a major fuel supply crisis looming large.

About two-third of the 425 petrol pumps in the national capital did not open because of lack of stocks, while 60 per cent outlets in Mumbai hung 'No Stock' signs boards.

Mumbai also ran out of compressed natural gas (CNG) that runs some two lakh buses, taxis and autos but Delhi had enough CNG and piped natural gas stocks to last 7 to 10 days.

While Hindustan Petroleum pumps across the country were operating normally, Bharat Petroleum senior management officials were ensuring that there were dispatches of petrol and diesel to the company's outlets. However, Indian Oil, the nation's largest retailer, had almost nil dispatches of products.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora late on Thursday evening drove to Noida on the outskirts of the national capital, to meet the striking Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) leaders but the talks to resolve the imbroglio failed.

OSOA kept harping on Government conceding on its demand for higher increase in their wages than those approved in November but Deora said he did not have powers to approve anything that would also have ramifications on other PSUs.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already appointed a committee of ministers headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram to look into their demands within 30 days.

At the airports, absence of officers led to delay in refuelling of airplanes and some flight were delayed.

Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) Chairman RS Sharma failed to convince his company officials to resume gas production from the country's largest field in Western Offshore, affecting power generation and fertilizer production.

Crude oil production from Mumbai offshore was almost half at 1,80,000 barrels and four key refineries of Indian Oil operated at 25 to 30 per cent of their capacity.

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