New Delhi: Lanka IOC, the unit of India's biggest oil firm Indian Oil, has asked all its 216 petrol pumps in Sri Lanka to maintain a separate fuel stockpile for supply to ambulances in the crisis-hit island nation. The company is operating all its petrol pumps normally and is provisioning to meet the increased rush, Lanka IOC's Managing Director Manoj Gupta told PTI.
Sri Lanka plunged into a fresh crisis on Monday after its President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country in the face of massive protests and the economy's collapse.
Lanka IOC, which sources its petroleum product from the parent company in India, has ramped up operations to meet the increased fuel demand.
It is selling some 1,500 kilolitres (1.5 million litres) of petrol and diesel from its petrol pumps daily, Gupta said.
Lanka IOC pumps are witnessing long queues as supplies dried up at most of the 1,300 bunks operated by Sri Lankan state oil firm Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
With depleted foreign exchange reserves, CPC is facing problems importing oil. Countries like India are seeking payment in advance for the supply of fuel after credit lines were exhausted.
The bankrupt nation is offering fuel quota to companies that can pay dollars to CPC.
Lanka IOC had captured a market share of about 19 per cent some years back but it fell to 13 per cent after the state-owned firm sold fuel at subsidised rates. With pricing being corrected in recent months, its market share is rising again.
Besides fuel retailing, Lanka IOC also has bunkering operations at Trincomalee port from where it supplied some 7,500 tonnes of diesel to CPC in the last five days, Gupta said.
Supplies from Trincomalee tank farms were temporarily stopped on Wednesday after the army and police were called in following the declaration of emergency.
CPC imports fuel and crude oil at Trincomalee for supplies across the country.
Gupta said supplies from the tank farms should resume shortly.
"We all are safe and our operations are normal," he said. "We are witnessing long queues at our sheds (petrol pumps) and ramping up supplies."
Lanka IOC, he said, has asked all its petrol pumps to maintain a stockpile of 300 litres at all times for meeting the requirement of ambulances.
"We have advised all our dealers to ensure priority fuelling for ambulances. We can't imagine these services to be suspended," he said. "It's our commitment to continue meeting the energy needs of Sri Lanka."
At present, there are 9 Indians working at Lanka IOC — 7 persons in Colombo and 2 persons in Trincomalee.