As Covid-19 cases in the country continue to rise, the demand for medical-grade oxygen too is growing rapidly
After Reliance Industries Ltd, state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) have begun diverting oxygen produced at their refineries to supplement the availability of medical oxygen in states worst hit by Covid-19.
In a statement, IOC said it has "begun the supply of 150 tonnes of oxygen at no cost to various hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab."
"The first batch of the lifesaver medical grade oxygen was dispatched today to Maha Durga Charitable Trust Hospital, New Delhi," it said. "Delhi is already facing an oxygen emergency situation."
In the face of a massive surge in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave of the pandemic, IOC has diverted the high-purity oxygen used in its Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG) unit to produce medical-grade liquid oxygen at its Panipat refinery and petrochemical complex in Haryana.
The throughput of the unit has also been scaled down for a more critical cause.
In a separate statement, BPCL said it has started supply of 100 tonnes of oxygen at no cost.
"The company will be supplying around 100 tonnes per month," it said.
With average daily cases of Covid-19 rising again since last one month, the demand for oxygen has significantly risen. In fact, in most parts of the country, the cases are hitting new peak, thereby disrupting the demand-supply scenario for medical oxygen.
Last week, Reliance's twin oil refineries in Jamnagar in Gujarat through minor process modification converted industrial oxygen into medical-use oxygen that can be administered to Covid-19 patients low on oxygen. In all, 100 tonnes of oxygen is being supplied from the Jamnagar refineries free of cost.
BPCL is also supplying 1.5 tonnes per day of medical oxygen to Kerala from its Kochi Refinery.
Last year, BPCL had supplied around 25 tonnes of medical oxygen when the average daily cases had risen in October-November.
The Kochi Refinery has a provision to produce and store liquid oxygen of 99.7 per cent purity.
Oil refineries can produce limited volumes of industrial oxygen in air-separation plants meant for nitrogen production. Scrubbing out other gases such as carbon dioxide can convert it into medical-use oxygen with 99.9 per cent purity.
Reliance operates the world's largest oil refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
IOC Chairman S M Vaidya reiterated the firm's unstinted support to the country at this critical hour in every possible way.
"All through the pandemic, our prime focus has been to ensure the supply of essential fuels 24X7. We have also stepped up the production of raw material for PPEs, and we are now providing lifesaving medical oxygen to hospitals.
"Our expertise and assets, including refineries, pipelines, petrochemical units, bottling plants, terminals and aviation fuel stations, will continue to serve the people despite the stiff challenges”, he added.
As the Covid-19 cases in the country continue to rise, the demand for medical-grade oxygen too is growing rapidly. "The current initiative by IOC aims at supporting the states in fighting the battle against Covid-19," the statement added.