Nagalatha Srikanth, a homemaker in Chikkalsandra here, was pleasantly surprised on Wednesday when her LPG distributor delivered the cylinder within 24 hours after she had booked a refill.
For, since the beginning of 2012, Ms. Srikanth, like most LPG customers, was struggling to cope with an inordinate delay to get a refill.
Oil companies were unable to meet the demand as members of the Southern Region Bulk LPG Transport Operators’ Association went on strike twice — once in January and again in March, seeking higher transportation charges, among other demands.
Public sector oil marketing companies, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPC) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPC), were unable to maintain regular supply of LPG cylinders, particularly in areas entirely dependent on supply by road. While customers in coastal areas and areas with rail link were less affected, those in the hinterland had to bear the brunt.
The short supply of domestic cylinders also led to panic booking by customers. This resulted in piling up of bookings, with some distributors reporting a backlog of up to 25,000. The situation continued like this till June before oil companies made efforts to increase production to clear the backlog started to show results.
N. Sathyan, secretary of the All India LPG Distributors’ Federation, Karnataka Circle, told The Hindu that supplies had become almost normal since a fortnight. The backlog had been cleared and refills were being delivered a day after the booking, he said. The 30-day gap between the previous delivery and the next booking, however, would continue, he added.
Sources in oil companies said that restoration of normality in the supply of LPG cylinders was the result of sustained efforts by companies to increase production. While IOC had almost cleared the backlog, BPC and HPC still had a waiting period of about a week; but the situation was far better than that prevailed a couple of months ago, the sources said.
The three oil companies together bottle 2.6 lakh cylinders every day across Karnataka in their bottling plants located in Bangalore, Shimoga, Belgaum, Dharwad and Mangalore.