New Delhi/Mumbai: Indian refiners are assessing security protocols put in place for the multi-billion dollar installations following drone attacks on Saudi Aramco, which has resulted in the biggest-ever disruption in global crude oil supply.

These security assessments also come in the backdrop of India becoming a preferred refining hub, with its refining capacity increasing from 62 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) in 1998 to around 249.366 mtpa now. The issue assumes significance given that Indian refineries have capacity of oil reserves equivalent to at least 65 days of net imports.

On 27 August last year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) laid down strict regulations, forbidding flying of civil remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) or drones within restricted distance from the perimeter of airports, military installations, international border which includes Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), into sea from coast line, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, state secretariats, among others.

“We are assessing the security situation," said a senior official at one of the state-run refiners, adding that “Whenever there is a threat of any sort, the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) issues an advisory."

India has become Asia’s largest refined product exporter since August 2009. India is a net exporter of petroleum products and imported 207.3 million tonnes of oil in 2018-19 fiscal.

Some of the large refiners in India are private sector refiners such as Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft PJSC’ Nayara Energy (earlier Essar Oil Ltd) and state-run Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL). The other refiners in the country are ONGC owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), Chennai Petroleum Corp. Ltd (CPCL), Numaligarh Refinery Ltd, Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd.

“It is for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to issue a security advisory," said an Indian government official requesting anonymity.

“No such advisory has been issued till date post the attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities," added a second Indian government official who also did not want to be named.

According to a PTI report last month, an armed contingent of over 100 CISF commandos took over counter-terror security duties at Nayara Energy Ltd’s refinery in the Vadinagar area of Gujarat. This is the tenth installation in the private sector of the country to get an armed cover of the CISF, a paramilitary under the Union home ministry. RIL’s Jamnagar refinery too has a CISF cover.

India’s crude basket, which averaged $47.56 and $56.43 a barrel in FY17 and FY18, respectively, touched $59.35 in August, according to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell. The average price jumped to $65.11 a barrel on 16 September. The Indian basket of crude represents the average of Oman, Dubai and Brent crude.

Consequently on Tuesday, automotive fuel prices saw the biggest increase since 5 July. While the price of petrol jumped 14 paisa per litre to 72.17, diesel price gained 15 paisa to 65.58 in New Delhi.

Shaswati Das contributed to the story

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