It can store the country’s requirement of oil for 15 days during emergencies

The underground caverns to store crude oil as a strategic reserve, being built by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. (ISPRL) at Mangalore and Padur (Udupi), will be ready by June next.

“We are hopeful to commission the projects by the middle of next year,” Rajan K. Pillai, Chief Executive Officer, ISPRL, told The Hindu over phone from New Delhi.

In Mangalore, out of 22.6 lakh metre cube of cavern, close to 22 lakh metre cube was completed. “Within the next two months, the rest will be completed,” he said.

P. V. B. Rao, Deputy General Manager, (DGM), ISPRL, Padur, said “the cavern at Padur is going on well.”

While it would be ready by the targeted time — January, 2014 — commissioning would be possible within three months. “We will be on track,” he said.

ISPRL is a special purpose vehicle (SPV), wholly-owned by the Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB), constructing three caverns at Mangalore, Padur and Vizag for storage of oil for emergencies and disruption of supplies due to war or uncontrolled prices.

A few weeks ago, S. Vijayananda, Chief Manager, ISPRL, Mangalore, had told The Hindu that the completion of the Mangalore cavern project would get postponed by six months from 2013 due to a delay in laying a 36-km pipeline from the New Mangalore Port to the ISPRL crude filling pipe. The pipeline had now been put on the fast track, he said.

Mr. Pillai said, “We are moving already on fast track. It is expected to be done shortly, within a month.” The pipes had been procured, and had to be laid. However, the order for laying the pipeline was yet to be placed, he said.

Mr. Vijayanand, however, said, “Delay in pipeline is still there” as the contract should have been awarded in March, 2013. The work normally should be done in ‘fair season’, which ideally is October to December, and can extend to mid-May. While the completed work may be commissioned (the crude can be brought into the cavern) any time, the rains do affect pipeline work. If the pipeline work starts in August, no pipeline contractor will work in monsoons as quality welding is not possible. So, the work will be mobilised only in October. “It is still a setback,” he said.

The Mangalore cavern could store the country’s requirement for 15 days, he said.

Mr. Pillai said monsoon in the coastal region was a factor to be considered, but the project would not be affected by it. Work prior to laying the pipeline could begin, he said.