New Delhi: Seventeen oil sector officers — 11 from ONGC and three each from IOC and GAIL have been suspended and two ONGC officers arrested for participating in a strike that had been prohibited by the higher judiciary, according to Petroleum Secretary R.S. Pandey.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram reviewed the situation arising out of the strikes by oil sector excutives and truckers with a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary, Petroleum Secretary and Transport Secretary.
The strike call, by officers of 13 oil PSUs to press for a wage hike, has affected operations in only four refineries with air services by and large remaining normal, while oil companies have stocked themselves up for 15-20 days.
Oil companies’ executives defied High Court orders and went on indefinite strike, leading to a shutdown of gas supplies from the country’s largest fields and cutting of output at key refineries.
“The strike is total in all oil PSUs except Hindustan Petroleum. The strike began at 6am,” Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) President Amit Kumar said.
The strike resulted in a shutdown of ONGC’s South Bassein and its satellite fields in the western offshore and privately operated Panna Mukta and Tapti Fields. South Bassein produces 29 million standard cubic metres per day and Panna Mukta and Tapti another 15-16 mmscmd.
However, the Uran processing plant of ONGC in Maharashtra continued to operate, receiving 12-13 mmscmd gas from Bombay High and the Neelam and Heera field.
“Gas supply pressure from ONGC fields started reducing from 2.30am and came to a grinding halt at 6am, forcing us to cut supplies on HVJ,“ GAIL Chairman U.D. Choubey said adding: “GAIL is maintaining supplies to the priority sector from the volumes already available in the pipeline.“
Notice was issued to the officers’ union of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) on a contempt petition filed by the company for giving strike warning despite court restraint being in place. The Guwahati High Court restrained officers of Oil India.
Officers of ONGC stopped natural gas supplies from the country’s largest field in Mumbai offshore, forcing a shutdown of the Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline.
ONGC also stopped most of the gas supplies from privately operated Panna/Mukta and Tapti fields as the fuel from these passes through its processing units and pipelines. Only 1.5 million standard cubic metres of 18 mmscmd was being supplied.
The strike was most visible in ONGC, Amit Kumar’s parent firm, while it has no impact in HPCL. Indian Oil Corp’s operations at four of its refineries were impacted.
“Aviation services are working normally. Our petrol pumps are also operating normally,” IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria said. But the Haldia refinery was completely shut down while its Panipat, Mathura and Koyali refineries were in the ‘cooling down´ phase — a process before the units are completely shut down.
“In Haldia, all units are being shut down but at the other three refineries some units will operate,” a company official said.
“The petrol pumps and depots have stocks for 2-3 days. We have to see if loading and dispatching are impacted,” Behuria said.