Chennai: An acute shortage of petrol and diesel has hit three districts of Tamil Nadu with nearly 1,000 bunks going dry, a petroleum dealer said Monday.

The shortage of petrol was due to the dealers not taking supplies to cut their freight costs while high-speed diesel (HSD) was in short supply due to a spurt in demand, said representatives of the oil industry.

The officials said that the demand for HSD in the state rose during February at 25.2 percent, March 25.7 percent and April 19.5 percent as against the all-India average growth of 8 percent for these months."Our understanding is that the Chennai Petroleum Corp Ltd. (CPCL) is not refining the required quantities of crude and hence the shortage," said M. Kannan, president of Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association.

Kannan said there was a shortage of Euro IV compliant petrol used in Chennai and parts of districts like Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram.

Concurring with him, an official of Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd. (HPCL), preferring anonymity, told a news agency, "There is an  untimely shutdown of the CPCL refinery and hence the fuel crisis in our bunks."However, denying any shut-down in its refinery, an official of the CPCL told, "Our refinery is working in full capacity and there is no shutdown or reduction of our refining activity."He said supplies to oil marketing companies like HPCL and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd. (BPCL) were dealt with by Indian Oil Corp Ltd. (IOCL), the parent company.

People whose vehicles ran out of petrol or diesel were seen carrying empty bottles and walking from bunk to bunk in search of fuel in the three districts."All the bunks in this area have said they do not have stocks. I have been going from one bunk after another," fumed A. Ravi, an auto-rickshaw driver.


"The companies have increased the petrol prices. They know the demand situation. It is a wonder why they allowed the bunks of all the three oil marketing companies to go dry," R. Raghunathan, working in a private sector company, said."People fault us and fight with us as if we are hoarding fuel. The companies are not coming out with proper answers," Kannan said.

According to him, the union petroleum and natural gas minister should look into the issues and find out why such a situation was allowed to develop. In a statement issued here V.K. Jaychandran, executive director at IOCL and the state-level coordinator for oil industry, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, said there had been a high spurt in demand for HSD in Tamil Nadu.

At a meeting with the state government officials here to take stock of the fuel situation, the oil companies said that the increased demand was mainly for power generation."Considerable quantities are being drawn directly from retail outlets not only for industrial units but also for running genets in business ventures like shops, hotels, hospitals and other commercial establishments. There is also an increasing tendency of industry to substitute other costlier fuels like furnace oil with the cheaper HSD," he said.

According to Jaychandran, IOCL had fully met the demands of HPCL and BPCL this month and the three oil companies were moving the products by sea and the oil tankers were expected to berth at Chennai Port on Tuesday.

According to an IOCL official, the shortage of petrol was due to the dealers not taking supplies to cut their freight cost."Normally a truck would carry both diesel and petrol. With diesel in short supply petrol bunk owners are not taking delivery of petrol to save on their cost and hence the shortage," he told.

(Agencies)

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