Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is planning to go in for import of up to 1.2 million tonnes of diesel this fiscal due to “unprecedented rise” in domestic consumption that has seen a growth of 18-20 per cent.

IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria said that consumption of diesel was witnessing an unprecedented and abnormal growth, something not anticipated by the oil firm. He said the rise in the growth of diesel consumption was less than industrial fuels like fuel oil. “Our analysis has shown that the massive growth in diesel consumption has been mainly due to diversion for generation of power and use in generators. Due to the precarious power situation, diesel is being used in the power sector in a big way,” Mr. Behuria said. IOC’s seven refineries are geared to meet a demand growth of 14-15 per cent, but 18-20 per cent surge in consumption was unexpected and therefore, the company was contemplating importing 1.2 million tonnes of diesel this fiscal.

Mr. Behuria said that the company was helpless in preventing the misuse of cheap diesel for power generation as compared to fuel oil.

“The fuel oil growth has registered a negative growth of 4-5 per cent. We have made certain representations to the Petroleum Ministry as well as the Chaturvedi Committee and hope that some kind of solution would be found,” he said.

IOC had imported two lakh tonnes of diesel in the first quarter of this year. However, he said the company would not have to import diesel till October but the second half of 2008-09 could see import of 0.7-1 million tonnes of diesel to meet the demand.

The industry, which, besides IOC, includes sister State-run firms HPCL and BPCL, together may import 3-3.5 million tonnes of diesel.