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LPG crisis looms over Bhogali Bihu

Guwahati, Dec. 27: If you don’t get an LPG cylinder ahead of Bhogali Bihu, blame the decreasing water level of the Hooghly at Haldia port in Bengal.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), which supplies gas products to Indian Oil Corporation, has informed IOC that LPG supplies have been affected as the cargo ships carrying gas containers could not reach Haldia port because of decreasing water level in the Hooghly.

The shortage of supply from Haldia has put the IOC in a tight spot to meet the monthly supply gap of around 12,000 to 13,000 metric tonnes of LPG in the Northeast, for which it depends on Adnoc.

The IOC has moved the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) to resume their supplies to meet the LPG demand in the run up to Bihu.

“Since Bhogali Bihu is approaching, we have requested GAIL and NRL to resume their gas supplies soon. GAIL’s supply (4,000MT/month) remains suspended because of its annual shutdown for maintenance work while NRL could not supply because of a technical breakdown. We are giving priority to LPG supplies in Nagaland and Mizoram for the Christmas celebrations. Similarly, we will try to ensure that there is no shortage of supplies during Bihu in Assam. People don’t need to panic,” a senior IOC official here told The Telegraph.

Assam will celebrate Bhogali Bihu, the annual post-harvest celebration, from January 14. Since feasting is a primary part of the festival, demand for LPG cylinders goes up ahead of the festivities.

The official said there is shortage of gas supply at the source in the West Asian countries from where Adnoc transports gas and supplies to India. “Adnoc recently informed us that its gas container cargo could not reach the shores of the Haldia port as the draft of the Hooghly water (depth of water) was not sufficient for safe navigation. So, loading was significantly affected in the first fortnight of December and this may continue. Thus, we have to depend on the local supplies,” he said.

Bongaigaon and Duliajan refineries supply 4,000MT of LPG each to the IOC every month while the oil marketing company procures 4,300MT of LPG from Guwahati Refinery, 3,500 MT/month from NRL, 2,400MT/month from GAIL (Lakwa) and 800MT/month from Digboi Refinery.

The states in eastern India depend on gas supplies through Haldia port. “There is a shortage of supplies in all the states because of the navigation problem at Haldia port. We have also requested the NRL to stop its supply of around 600MT of bulk LPG to Raiganj in Bengal to tide over the local demand during Bihu,” the official said.

A domestic LPG cylinder (subsidised) in Guwahati costs Rs 408 while the non-subsidised ones are sold at Rs 1,100. Each commercial cylinder costs Rs 1,800 in Guwahati.

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