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As refiners dump fuel, India is running out of space to store petrol, diesel and crude

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A cyclist rides past oil storage tanks at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, operated by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra | Photographer: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg
A cyclist rides past oil storage tanks at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, operated by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra | Photographer: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg


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Singapore/New Delhi: India is quickly running out of space to store a swelling stockpile of fuel as every possible container — including those in the 66,000 pump stations nationwide — threatens to overflow.

Refiners in India, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, have filled 95% of about 85 million barrels of fuel storage capacity, according to officials at three state-owned processors. The virus-inflicted lockdown of more than a billion people has pummeled India’s appetite for key transportation fuels as travel and movement remains restricted in large swaths of the world’s second-most populated country.

Options to stash away unwanted barrels are fast running out globally. The world’s biggest independent oil storage company, Royal Vopak NV, said it has leased out almost all available space to store crude and refined fuels due to the still-expanding glut that drove oil prices negative for the first time in history.

“Demand does not seem to be coming back fast,” said R. Ramachandran, director of refineries at Bharat Petroleum Corp. “Major consumption centres like Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta are in trouble now because of increasing coronavirus cases” as the nation struggles to contain the spreading pandemic.

Apart from BPCL, major state-owned refiners and fuel retailers include Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Indian Oil Corp. Spokespersons at the three companies did not immediately respond to emails and calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

India’s refiners slashed runs to less than 50% at some units to counter a record slump in fuel demand in April as the world’s biggest lockdown emptied roads, halted flights and brought most economic activities to a screeching halt. Consumption for diesel and gasoline, which account for more than half of India’s oil demand, dropped by more than 60% in the first half of April. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending the lockdown until May 3 has dashed hopes of a sharp recovery.

Besides retail stations, Indian refiners also store petroleum fuels at more than 300 depots and terminals, as well as 250 aviation fuel stations. More than two-thirds of total capacity is used for storing diesel and another 20% for gasoline.

Overflowing tanks have forced Indian refiners to sell very prompt cargoes of oil products with some tenders offering loadings in about a week, compared with normal loading range of a three-four weeks ahead. Since Tuesday, Indian Oil, BPCL and Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd offered more cargoes of diesel, gasoline, and naphtha loading by first week of May.

State-owned processors aside, the country’s biggest private refiner Reliance Industries Ltd. is probably sending cargoes to leased storage outside India, according to industry consultant FGE, which estimates India’s total oil product demand will plunge by 1.4 million barrels a day this current quarter from a year earlier.

State-owned giant Indian Oil Corp. has slashed run rates across its 10 refineries by almost half. Other refineries are likely operating at minimum utilization rates of about 35%, said Senthil Kumaran, an oil markets consultant at FGE.

“Both national oil companies and private refiners are sharply reducing crude throughput as they see product tanks filling to the brim soon,” Kumaran said. – Bloomberg


Also read: Oil price falls below zero dollar a barrel, that’s right – below $0


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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