Home cooking during coronavirus lockdown pushes up LPG demand

NEW DELHI: The demand for cooking gas in the country surged in March as people are cooking more at home while remaining indoors during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

In the month of March, when sale of auto fuels petrol and diesel and even aviation turbine fuel (ATF) has fallen by upto 15-20 per cent, oil companies are witnessing a surge in demand for LPG cooking gas cylinders that has risen by almost the same margin.

The situation has changed so quickly that IndianOil chairman was forced to issue a statement suggesting that there was no shortage of LPG in the country and customers should refrain from panic buying.

“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 panic booking. We have introduced a system of booking refill only after a gap of 15 days after the last refill. So kindly abide by that,a IndianOil chairman Sanjiv Singh said in a statement.

The 14.2 kg LPG cylinder has become the main stay of cooking in the country as government has expanded its coverage to over 96 per cent of households. Under Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY), additional 8 crore connections have been given to women member of poor families who were depending on wood and coal for cooking. The country in all has over 35 crore active LPG customers.

“LPG demand has gone up significantly which can be due to panic buying though there is no shortage. But the demand trends is already pushing the government to scramble over move to ensure adequate supplies are ensured from prime exporters to prevent shortages,a said an oil sector analyst asking not to be named.

Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said that he had discussed global oil market developments with Saudi energy minister with Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Aramco’s Chief Executive Amin Nasser as well as uninterrupted LPG supplies to India.

“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 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 optimising LPG yields with higher severity operation of their main LPG producing units, that is, FCCU and Indmax,” IndianOil said in a statement recently.

While talk shortages are being rebutted by companies, sources indicated that a few bottling units of marketing companies are left with meagre stock of LPG and stick would need to be replenished soon to meet the rising demand.

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