After commissioning, it will help decongest traffic and be a relief for Tondiarpet residents

Public sector oil marketing company Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) is close to commissioning its Ennore terminal, a move that will contribute to decongesting north Chennai besides making it a better place from a health, safety and environment perspective.

Though it took over six years for the facility to come up, the Ennore terminal with a 1.4 lakh kilolitre tankage capacity makes more sense in the backdrop of frequent reports, since January, of leaks from pipelines of oil companies running across north Chennai. The higher storage planned at Ennore — Tondiarpet has a tankage of 35,000 KL — is because the supplies will be made through coastal movements and the company wants to maintain a 30-day inventory.

Commissioning of the facility will eventually lead to HPCL closing its Tondiarpet terminal located in what over the years has become a congested locality. One of the major benefits from this shift will be less truck movements and traffic load on the road. Around 300 truck trips happen in a day from Tondiarpet for HPCL and after the move to Ennore most of the vehicles will bypass the city roads.

HPCL will start supplying both petrol and diesel by August 15, senior executives of the company told The Hindu recently. It received the first parcel of diesel (9.5 TMT) for the terminal at Ennore port last month and the petrol consignment is expected to arrive late on Tuesday, they added.

Chennai region HPCL Dealer Association president Geetha Mathew said the company had been regularly updating the trade about the progress of the terminal. Some dealers were recently taken on a tour of the facility and informed that diesel supplies from Ennore to retail outlets were likely to begin from Wednesday and petrol from August 12.

But it will be sometime before HPCL retail outlets in Chennai start receiving petrol and diesel from the new terminal as the first few consignments would be of fuels conforming to Euro III emission norms. Chennai is among the few cities in the country where only the next grade, environmentally friendly, Euro IV automobile fuels are supplied.

The next couple of months will be crucial for the terminal, starting with extending the supplies to all six of the seven districts that will be fed from Ennore and stabilise before the products for Chennai flow out from there. Progressively, this would reduce the company’s dependence on Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd’s Manali refinery as products for the new terminal would be shipped to Ennore from refineries of HPCL.

On when operations at the nearly 80-year-old Tondiarpet terminal would stop, the executives said the plan is to do it by October. Besides coming up in a vast expanse of land out of the city, the new terminal is equipped with latest safety mechanisms. They are in line with recommendations of the M.B.Lal Committee, which was constituted after the devastating fire at an installation of IOC in Sanganer, Jaipur in October 2009, a senior executive of HPCL said.

Operators of tanker trucks were also expected to benefit as the number of petrol bunks coming under the free delivery zone, of 38 round trip km, would reduce. There is a differential, higher tariff for supplies made beyond the free delivery zone.

On the implication for customers, HPCL executives say though it would translate into more transportation cost for the company,passing it on to consumers, even if it is marginal, when IOC and BPCL supply from north Chennai is not advisable.