Many petrol pumps facing fuel crisis in J&K; HPCL, BPCL outlets’ most affected

Unable to bear losses, oil companies impose cut in quota

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, June 14: Many petrol pumps in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are facing fuel crisis while several have gone dry, as the oil companies have abruptly reduced the quota being supplied to the petrol/diesel outlets in the region.
Sources told the Excelsior that since last Friday, many petrol/diesel outlets in Kashmir as well as in Jammu region are facing shortage, especially, in the supply of diesel in the rural as well as semi- urban pockets of the region. Many petrol pump owners, who rang up Excelsior office, claimed that Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) companies have suddenly reduced their quota without citing any justified reason and even they were not clearly telling about the reason behind the crisis.
The situation in the rural areas of the region is turning more grim as the farmers are unable to get adequate supply of diesel for their tractors and other machines. It has hit the transport sector as well. Even the direct consumers/Govt departments/companies handling major projects like highways and tunnels, hydro power projects in J&K are also facing the heat of this growing problem as the top officials of the companies in Jammu have failed to resolve the crisis even after 5-6 days. They only claim that their Jammu depot was getting less supplies from the source.
Several owners/ operators of the Fuel Filling Stations in Jammu district without being quoted revealed that they placed order for 8000/10,000 Ltrs of diesel but they were provided hardly one- third of the demand. Similar reports were received from Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Udhampur, Akhnoor, Kathua, Reasi, Ramban, Kashmir and several other areas of the J&K UT. The operators said that their business has been badly hit with the non-supply of the petrol and diesel. They said not much problem has been observed at the Indian Oil retail pumps, this crisis is only at the HPCL and BPCL outlets.
Sources in the Oil Companies disclosed that Oil Companies are facing massive losses for the past some months in the wake of Ukraine- Russia war. Russia is providing oil to only Indian Oil Company that too, at the discount of nearly 27 %. Moreover, to recover or adjust the losses, the companies on the advise of Government raised the rate of fuel by Rs 18 per litre for the direct consumers/big companies. Resenting this decision, the direct consumers moved to the petrol pumps and started fetching supplies from the retail outlets. This also created shortage of supplies at the retail outlets.
Sources further revealed that since Indian Oil Corp have about six refineries and other two main companies have just two each, this has also contributed in the growing problem as HPCL and BPCL are unable to bear heavy losses and have effected cut in the supplies to make up for the growing losses. This has created problem not only in J&K, but also in other parts of the northern region, the sources added.
Annan Sharma, president Oil Tankers Association and senior member of Petrol Pump Owners Association when contacted said that only HPCL and BPCL retail outlets are facing this crisis. The Indian Oil depot continued to ensure adequate supplies. He said they took up the matter with the concerned State Level Coordinator of the Oil Companies in J&K who assured to resolve the issue shortly but it could not be settled till date, he added.
Sharma further said that diesel engine vehicles are facing much crisis and this shortage has also affected the agriculture activities in the region. The farmers are unable to get adequate quota of fuel and moreover, many direct consumers have also diverted to the retail outlets. But whatever, may be the case, the Company officials at the helm of affairs must resolve the issue, he added.
Anjani Kumar, State Level Coordinator for the Oil Companies in J&K when contacted said that majority of the Petrol Pumps/ owners have their bank account in J&K Bank. The bank is said to have some issue in transferring payments. That is causing problem, he claimed.
When asked whether oil companies were facing losses or made to sell oil at Rs 16/ per Lt on loss by the Government at present, SLC said it is internal matter between Govt and companies but that has nothing to do with any shortage. The companies will have to go by the directive from the Govt, he maintained.
Deepak Barnwal, Regional Manager, HPCL on being contacted admitted the shortage in supplies for the last few days but avoided to cite clear reason behind the issue. He said his depot at Jammu was getting less supplies these days from the refinery at Bathinda. As and when the supplies are raised, he will be able to provide adequate supplies to his company retail outlets. He, however, claimed that issue is expected to be resolved shortly.