Shut bottling plant in Kochi has adequate bulk stock

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC), which caters to more than half of the cooking gas requirement in the State, says there is no reason for panic on the supply front in the wake of an order issued on Wednesday by the Department of Factories and Boilers prohibiting the operation of its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling plant at Udayamperoor, near here.

“Kochi bottling plant has adequate bulk LPG stock, besides equipment and trained personnel, to resume operations in the shortest possible time once the temporary closure order is lifted,” said a statement issued by IOC here on Thursday.

A senior official of the government department said that the operation of the LPG bottling plant was prohibited following the incident on Monday in which 18 tonnes of cooking gas was released into the air after the valve of a bullet tanker broke on the plant premises.

The incident would have turned into a major tragedy had it not been for the safety arrangements at the bottling plant.

An order prohibiting the operation of the plant was issued after a preliminary enquiry into the incident, said the official. One of the reasons for prohibiting the operation of the plant was that there were around 200 tankers spread over the premises and roads leading to the bottling plant. These tankers were potential hazards, the official said.

Officials visit plant

Officials from the department visited the bottling plant on Thursday to take stock of the situation. The plant would be reopened as and when the safety conditions set by the Department of Explosives and Factories and Boilers were met, the official added.

The IOC press release said that the recent accident involving an LPG tanker and subsequent arrest of the tanker driver had led to protest action by tanker lorry drivers, leading to tankers bunching at the bottling plant.

The press release said that the LPG leakage was professionally handled by IOC’s trained personnel with various inbuilt safety measures without any fire at the site. However, the bunching of the LPG tankers in and around the plant had led to its temporary closure, resulting in partial disruption of LPG supplies in some pockets of Kochi and its surrounding areas.

IOC has three bottling plants in the State— Kochi, Kollam and Kozhikode, which are serving 38 lakh Indane customers, covering the central, south and northern parts of Kerala. The combined capacity is 3,45,000 metric tonnes per year. Plans are also afoot to increase the bottling capacity of Kozhikode plant by 75 tonnes to meet the demand beyond 2017-18. 

The two plants in Kollam and Kozhikode were operating at full rated capacity, ensuring normal LPG supplies in southern and northern parts of Kerala, the press release added. 

The recent road accident at Chala, near Kannur, had adversely affected movement of bulk LPG from Mangalore and from Kochi Refineries to bottling plants operated by IOC, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. The situation was further complicated by the protest by tanker drivers after Monday’s arrest of the tanker driver.

Meeting held

The oil industry representatives held an exclusive meeting with transporters in Kochi on Wednesday to expedite the resumption of tanker movement.

The oil marketing company said it regretted the inconvenience caused to its customers in a few markets owing to the disruption.

  • 18 tonnes of LPG leaked from bullet tanker

  • Plant can be opened if safety conditions are met