Bulk LPG transporters have decided to go on strike from Thursday midnight, a decision that could further complicate issues for households already hit by the time taken to supply cooking gas cylinders.

Stating that the two-day talks with oil marketing companies, which ended on Thursday evening, failed, a leader of the transporters said the meeting was to address various demands, including finalisation of the new transportation tender for south India at the earliest.

“We have decided to go on strike from midnight as the old rate [contract] expired on October 31 last year. It was extended by three months. We had announced our decision to go a strike on 6 of this month following which we were called for talks yesterday and it failed,” M. Ponambalam, president, Southern Region Bulk LPG Transport Owners Association, told The Hindu on Thursday evening.

Besides early finalisation of the contract, the association, who operate 3,700 bullet tankers in the four southern States, Puducherry and Goa, wants the oil companies to engage all the member-vehicles. Barring a few, whose capacity is 12 tonnes, all the bullet tankers transport 18 tonnes. The tankers are used to move LPG from ports, mainly Mangalore and Vishakapatnam to various locations in south India and Goa.

Confirming that the talks did not yield the desired results, a senior official of an oil company said the transporters, however, had not given a direct notice of the proposed strike. “They have a meeting on Friday in Namakkal after which they would decide. As of now, they want to make the most of the Pongal holidays when most of the vehicles would not be operated,” he said.

Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, which together command a chunk of the LPG market in Tamil Nadu, have 15 bottling plants in the State. Of these 11 belong to IOC, including one of the largest in suburban Ennore whose LPG requirement per day is around 550 tonnes. For every tonne of LPG, 70 domestic cylinders (14.2 kg) could be bottled.

Noting that the impact of the strike, if it happens, would take a few days, possibly Wednesday, to be felt, sources in IOC said most of the oil companies have stock on wheels.

The bottling plant of IOC in Manali, on the outskirts of Chennai, however, would not to be affected as the LPG is supplied through pipeline from CPCL refinery.

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