Friday, July 25, 2008


The acute power crisis is triggering a huge demand for diesel. As oil companies struggle to meet the shortfall, there’s panic across the city as motorists search for the elusive fuel

The city consumed a whopping 3,000 kilolitres of diesel on Thursday, yet, the city was parched. The bunk on Residency Road opposite Cariappa Bhavan had a huge line-up of vehicles from noon though supply was scheduled only in the evening. Every driver wants to top up his tank instead of filling a few litres. A bunk near Ashoka Pillar in Jayanagar had the board ‘Only 10 litres per vehicle’. For the fourth consecutive day, the city reeled under a mounting diesel crisis, and oil supply companies are struggling to cope with the demand. In several petrol bunks on Residency Road, KH Road, Basavanagudi, Lalbagh, Jayanagar 4th Block, Mission Road, St Mark’s Road and Mysore Road, consumers patiently queued up throughout the day. But dealers were helpless as the stock supplied to them got exhausted within hours.
Oil companies have upped their supply but not been able to keep pace with the ever-growing demand. On Thursday, the all-time high of more than 3,000 kilolitres of diesel was supplied by the three oil companies, but even that wasn’t enough. Normally, the supply is 1,800 kilolitres per day.
Due to vehicles waiting at the bunks, traffic jams became the norm on nearby roads.
For the past four days, the entire stretch of Residency Road starting from Double Road including the flyover is getting gridlocked. The fuel bunk, Nagpal’s Garage, has a huge queue of vehicles that have spilled on to the road, creating a jam and a subsequent backlash. The situation is similar near MNK Park in Basavanagudi. The SRS bunk has a queue that goes as far back as Lalbagh Gate, right from morning. Policemen had to be deployed to reroute the traffic.
Vehicles were queued up at a Residency Road fuel station from morning to get diesel which would be available around 6 pm. A bunk operator said that even though they’ve put up a ‘No Stock’ board, people are willing to wait for the next supply.
Another operator, Irfan from a petrol bunk on Mysore Road, said that though they were considered to be a very lowselling bunk, now due to the huge demand for diesel, their bunk has a large customer base now. “Usually, we would sell about 2,000 to 3,000 litres but now the demand is about 7,000 to 8,000 litres but supply is a problem.’’ Irfan said.
With increased load-shedding, the diesel scarcity is expected to continue. According to B B Ravindranath, vicepresident, Akhila Karnataka Federation of Petroleum Traders, the sudden demand for diesel is mainly due to the worsened power situation in the state. Due to these frequent power cuts, the consumption of diesel has gone up and has resulted in panic buying.
Unable to handle the demand, some bunks have started rationing fuel. The cut-off fixed is 10 litres per vehicle. Seeing the panic-buying where drivers ask only for a ‘full tank’, the bunks are putting a ceiling. The bunks have also put up boards - ‘Only 10 litres per vehicle’. Also, many bunks have stopped filling cans and drums.
B Ashok, state level co-ordinator for oil industry, Karnataka and general manager, IOC, said it is pumping record quantities of fuel from its Devanagundi plant but the consumption is still increasing. “Indian Oil Corporation alone has supplied around 1,800 kilolitres on Thursday. Even though the supply has been increased by around 50%, the demand was more. Although we have been supplying fuel, due to panic buying, consumption has been very high,’’ he said.
According to Bhushan Narang, president, Karnataka Petroleum Traders Association, the demand for diesel is increasing by the hour and dealers are selling all they are supplied. “The demand for diesel today is approximately about 4,000 kilolitres but the supply is around 2,500 KL, so obviously there will be shortage. The demand has been triggered by frequent power cuts and aggravated by panic buying. For example, if a person usually buys around 2 litres, now he is panicking and buying about 20 litres, thus creating a virtual scarcity.’’ Narang explained.
Petrol pumps in Hubli have resorted to rationing of diesel in the wake of what they claim ‘reduction in supply’ for the past few days. Bunk dealers claim petroleum companies have reduced the supply of normal diesel, which has forced them to restrict to sell only 30 litres per vehicle.
“Hindustan Petroleum has reduced supply by 20%, Indian Oil by 30% and Bharat Petroleum by 10%,” sources said. However, petroleum companies deny it. “Due to unknown reasons, a few outlets in the city went dry a few days ago, which resulted in panic buying. Now, the situation is normal,” said a Bharat Petroleum marketing officer.
“Petroleum companies are trying to push the premium diesel, which costs Rs 2 more than normal diesel by creating an artificial scarcity of ordinary diesel,” a transporter alleged.
There’s been no panic buying and the stock is adequate, a senior official of an oil company said.
For July, the demand for the entire division, comprising seven districts, was 19,000 kilolitres. “This year, it may be 2-3% more due to growth and we have sufficient buffer stock,’’ sources said.
The oil companies usually indent for projected growth and all oil companies here have a stock, which is sufficient for the next 45 days. “Unless there’s panic reaction and hoarding, there’s no short supply of diesel. There is no move to restrict supply,’’ said another oil company official.
On Thursday, more than 3,000 kilolitres were consumed in the city The demand was for not less than 4,000-5,000 kilolitres Normal consumption in city is around 1,800 kilolitres All oil companies are supplying 50% more than normal Shortage fuelled by power cuts, forcing industries to use DG sets for longer hours


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