Indian Oil Corporation claimed in a public statement last week that the company’s bottling plant will resume soon

Operations at Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) LPG bottling plant at Udayamperoor continue to be at a standstill after last Monday’s incident in which 18 tonnes of cooking gas was accidentally released into the open.

Though IOC officials have tried to calm the nerves of worried customers, there is some anxiety about disruption in supplies considering that the Udayamperoor plant brings out 150 truck-loads of cooking gas daily. A total of 306 domestic cylinders make up a load.

Sources said IOC was trying to meet the current situation by moving supplies from northern Kerala.

Biggest player

IOC is the biggest player in the Kerala LPG market and has a base of nearly 37 lakh domestic customers as on October 1, 2011. Customers are worried whether the company would be able to make up for the lost production. There are indications that it would take a few more days for the bottling plant to reopen.

IOC claimed in a public statement last week that the company’s bottling plant had adequate bulk LPG stock, equipment and trained personnel to resume operations in the shortest possible time once the temporary closure order was lifted.

The Department of Factories and Boilers has lifted the temporary prohibition imposed on the plant after IOC officials removed the tanker lorries from the premises.

The functioning of the plant was temporarily suspended on September 12 by the department. Officials from the department visited the site after last Monday’s accident and found more than 200 tanker lorries in and around the premises of the bottling plant.

Sources said that there was also a large number of gas cylinders that had been segregated. The Department of Boilers has also asked the oil company to remove the cylinders at the earliest. The company had already drawn up plans to evacuate the segregated cylinders in a phased manner.

Meanwhile, movement of bulk LPG from Mangalore continues to be suspended following action by lorry drivers and crew, who have refused to come to Kerala via Kannur.

M. Ponnambalam of Southern Region Bulk LPG Transporters’ Association claimed that drivers and crew were afraid to come to Kerala because of what he alleged was harassment by the police and locals after the accident near Kannur in which 20 people lost their lives.

The IOC press release said last week that the recent LPG leak and the subsequent arrest of the tanker driver led to protest action by tanker lorry drivers.

Mr. Ponnambalam said that some of the empty tankers were being taken back via Palakkad and Coimbatore and that no one was prepared to come via Kannur.

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