According to media reports, at least 7,000 protestors blocked work, staging protests in front of the industrial area gate of Oil India. An Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) official said the company’s operations, too, stopped because of the unrest. According to an estimate, the energy majors put together have around 4.3 million tonnes (MT) of annual crude oil production and 3.2 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas production in the Northeast.
This may affect supply to refineries, and chemicals and fertiliser industries in the region. The Northeast has four refineries, including three of Indian Oil Corporation and the Numaligarh refinery, a subsidiary of Bharat Petroleum Corporation.
IndianOil has refineries in Guwahati, Digboi, and Bongaigaon in Assam. Production in these refineries is “down” because IndianOil is unable to produce more due to stoppage of tanker movements.
“Our storage tanks are full. Where will we store the products, unless tanker movement happens,” said an official. All the four refineries put together processed around 7 MT crude oil in the last financial year.
The stoppage of oil and gas production may lead to a cascading effect on other sectors. There is fear that supply by Assam Gas Company may also get affected, causing concern on the gas supply to more than 400 tea gardens. Industry sources have said that another major impact will be on the supply of cooking gas in the region.
“We already have a backlog of 10-15 days for LPG, as transportation is becoming an issue. This protest may start affecting kitchens soon,” Barua added. If the transport of imported LPG from Haldia in West Bengal, too, gets affected, there may be a further rise in the backlog.
The Assam Chamber of Commerce said all the major wholesale markets supplying to the entire Northeast were closed for four days now.
“On a daily basis, each of these major eight markets is suffering a loss of Rs 8-10 crore. In addition, prices of onion have reportedly touched Rs 180-200 a kg now,” said Sisir Dev Kalita, secretary general, Assam Chamber of Commerce.
Despite curfew and flag march by the army in Guwahati, Tinsukia, Jorhat, and Dibrugarh districts over the past few days, protestors hit the streets and blocked national
highways at various places, even on Friday.