Oil refiners step up operations as fuel demand rises after lockdown relaxation
With the rising consumption of petrol and diesel, state-run refiners Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) have ramped up capacity utilisation at their refineries — the former to 60% and the latter to 52%.
According to sources, petrol and diesel usage in the first 10 days May was up 68% and 74%, respectively, from the corresponding period in April.
Domestic consumption of petroleum products in April, when the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus was implemented throughout the month, fell 46% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 18.3 million tonne (MT).
R Ramachandran, director (refineries) at BPCL, told FE: “Since the May 4 relaxation of lockdown, we have seen the demand for gasoline and high-speed diesel go up by 25% day-on-day as compared to the month of April. Our average refinery production now stands at 52% and is expected to go up with improvement in traffic and industrial activities. In fact, our Mumbai refinery is operating at 68%.
We believe the production will improve once the lockdown in major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad opens up.” In the last week of March, when the country-wide lockdown had started, IOCL had regulated crude oil throughput at most of its refineries by 25% to 30%.