As Indian went under a 21-day lockdown started from Wednesday, the demand for cooking gas in the country has increased in the month of March as people are now turning to homemade food instead of ordering from outside.
In the month of March, when the country saw a drop in sales of automobiles, sale of fuels (Petrol and Diesel) and even the Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) by 15% to 20%, oil companies are witnessing a surge in the demand of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders by almost the same margin as the drop in the above mentions fuels.
As the situation changed in less than a week, the Chairman of Indian Oil, Sanjiv Singh, was forced to issue a statement assuring the people that there will be no shortage of LPG in India and customers should not start panic buying.
He said, “Kindly rest assured that we have enough stock (of LPG) have enough sticks in the country and our supply lines are functioning efficiently. There is absolutely no need to panic and kindly refrain from doing the panic booking. We have introduced a system of booking refills only after a gap of 15 days after the last refill. So kindly abide by that,” in the statement.
A 14.2 kilogram LPG cylinder has become the staple of almost every household in the country as the government expanded its coverage to more than 86% of households in India. Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY), an additional 8 crore connections were offered to women of poor families who earlier depended on coal or wood for cooking their meals.
As of now, India has more than 35 crore active customers of LPG.
An oil sector analyst on condition of maintaining confidentiality was quoted by a news agency in India as saying, “LPG demand has gone up significantly which can be due to panic buying though there is no shortage. But the demand trends are already pushing the government to scramble over a move to ensure adequate supplies are ensured from prime exporters to prevent shortages,”.
Dharmendra Pradhan, Petroleum Minister said that he had a discussion with the Saudi Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Amin Nasser who is the Chief Executive of Aramco over the global oil developments and the uninterrupted LPG supplies to India.
In a recent statement, Indian Oil said, “As compared to that of auto-fuels and ATF, the demand for LPG has seen a marginal increase in March 2020 (as on date) vis-a-vis LPG demand in the month of February 2020. For the past 10 days, IndianOil has been delivering on an average of 25 lakh cylinders every day to the doorsteps of its customers. Despite crude cuts, IndianOil refineries are maintaining LPG production close to normal levels by optimizing LPG yields with higher severity operation of their main LPG producing units, that is, FCCU and Indmax,”.
At the times when the shortages of LPG are being refuted by the companies, sources suggest that few bottling units of marketing companies are left with an insufficient stock of the LPG and they would be in a need of refill very soon to meet the surge in demand.