It follows leak of 18 tonnes of cooking gas

Officials from the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) visited Indian Oil Corporation’s LPG bottling plant at Udayamperoor, near Kochi, on Monday as part of a safety audit of the facility in the wake of a recent incident in which 18 tonnes of cooking gas was accidentally released into the open.

The OISD is a technical directorate under the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas that formulates and coordinates safety measures in the oil industry.

The functioning of the LPG bottling plant remained suspended for the eighth day on Monday after the gas leak incident, triggering apprehensions among IOC’s customers about the LPG supply situation.

Meanwhile, an official press release issued by the Indian Oil Corporation authorities said that the oil industry has approached the State government to convene a tripartite meeting involving representatives of oil industry, LPG transporters and the State government, to resolve the present crisis at the earliest.

The crisis has been caused by the LPG transporters’ refusal to uplift bulk LPG from Mangalore meant for use by State-based LPG bottling plants of oil marketing companies, as they complained of assault on LPG truck crew, levy of heavy penalty even for minor violations, difficulty in driving due to narrow roads especially in North Kerala, objection by general public to park vehicles on the nominated areas en route, restrictions on day driving following the bulk LPG tank truck accident at Chala recently.

The disruption in bulk LPG supplies to bottling plants in the State has resulted in many oil industry LPG bottling plants going dry and as a result, supply of gas cylinders to the public has begun to be affected.

If this situation continues, the backlog in refill supplies is expected to build up in some markets in the State in coming days, the release said.

Non-upliftment of bulk LPG from Kochi refinery by transport contractors has led to build-up of bulk LPG stocks in the refinery.

As a measure of safety this may lead to considerable reduction in refinery throughput by the Kochi refinery, which when it happens, is likely to affect the availability of other petroleum products as well.

The closure of IOC bottling plant here by the explosives department and the Inspector of Factories and Boilers, was also affecting availability of LPG cylinders for the consumers of Kochi bottling plant-fed areas, the release said.

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