Covid-19: Indian Oil initiates rare protocol to keep fuel supplies running

A logo of Indian Oil is pictured outside a fuel station in New Delhi | Photo: Reuters

As cities shutdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has initiated a rare protocol to safeguard its workforce while at the same time ensuring that plants operate uninterruptedly so as to keep the nation's fuel supplies running.

"We are in a business where we need to ensure not just consumers get uninterrupted supplies of petrol, diesel and cooking gas (LPG), but also airlines get jet fuel on demand and supply lines for nation's defence forces are unhindered," IOC Chairman Sanjiv Singh said.

The company has implemented work from home at non-critical locations and implemented staggered work hours and working on alternate days at others with all precautions.

Its consumer facing points such as petrol pumps and LPG delivery services have initiated safeguard protocol with face masks and sanitisers.

"We have an obligation towards the nation to keep its supply lines running and we are doing everything while ensuring employee and consumer safety," he said adding rare times require extraordinary measures and Indian Oil and all its employees are rising to the occasion to serve the nation.

Singh said to keep fuel supply lines running, oil refineries have to function, depots have to operate, pipelines need to flow and retail outlets need to dispense.

"To keep our operations running, we have to ensure that crude oil is imported on regular basis, it is stored and then refined at refineries, fuel so produced is transported to depots from where it has to be moved to consumer dispensing points. These are 24x7 operations and so we have taken measures to ensure they run while at the same time employees are protected," he said.

At petrol pumps and LPG distributorships, the company is trying to run operations with minimum number of employees while ensuring they dont take public transport, he said.

In all this, the company has to also ensure that the switch over to ultra-clean BS-VI petrol and diesel, equivalent to Euro-VI emission compliant fuel, happens before April 1 deadline, he said.

"The challenge before us is to protect employees and stakeholders (consumers). Challenge is that we cannot stop operations at any plant, location or retail outlet. The challenge is to maintain supplies at all times," he said.

The protocol IOC has implemented involves restricting outsider entries to company plants and townships as well as avoiding non-essential gathering of people, he said adding board meetings are being conducted through video conferencing.

"Indian Oil Tanking Ltd and Chennai Petroleum Corp Ltd (IOC subsidiaries) will hold forthcoming board meetings through video conferencing," he said.

IOC also tweeted pictures of its employees and retail outlet operators in precautionary gears while doing refils.

"The IndianOil aviation team working against the face of adversity, while taking the proper precautionary measures and following guidelines, to ensure uninterrupted supply of aviation fuel," it said in a tweet.

"Hats off to our customer attendants who are ensuring uninterrupted fuel supplies despite the challenging times; #IndianOil is committed to the health of all its stakeholders, ensuring all safe practices are in place," it said in another tweet.

IOC said all its distributors and delivery personnel have been advised on the best practices of personal hygiene and usage of hand sanitisers frequently. "We are taking all the necessary precautions to service our customers successfully."

"We are committed to the safety of our customers, employees and channel partners. We are ensuring cashless payments on home delivery of #Indane cylinders and are taking all necessary precautions for safety," it added.

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