New Delhi: The crisis management group, under Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekhar, met on Friday and considered the option of bringing in the Army to move petroleum product cargoes from refineries to petrol pumps but did not take a firm decision on this.
The option was considered as there was no loading or cargo despatching activity in IndianOil Corporation. IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria said, “We have exhausted all options and now we have to make officers work.”
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 the possibility of a major fuel supply crisis looming large.
However, some officers have returned to work in BPCL. Aviation refuelling services were near normal and HPCL was functioning as usual.
About two-thirds of the 425 petrol pumps in the National Capital did not open because of lack of stocks, while 60% outlets in Mumbai put up ‘No Stock´ signboards.
Mumbai also ran out of compressed natural gas (CNG), which 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.
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 R S 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% of their capacity.