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N-E staring at fuel crisis

New Delhi: Assam and other northeastern states may face fuel supply issues if the agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act continues for another week, as it has already led to the shutdown of refineries and oil-producing facilities in the region.

Indian Oil Corp  has been forced to shut down its Digboi refinery in Assam and is operating Guwahati unit at minimal throughput, while Oil India Ltd has been forced to shut LPG production and its crude oil production has dropped by 15-20 per cent, multiple sources at the state-owned companies said.

Sources said the agitation has blocked the movement of tankers and trucks, which are mostly used to supply petrol, diesel and LPG from the refineries to different parts of the North East.

With limited storage capacity, the companies have been forced to curtail production in absence of products being evacuated, they said.

Oil India Ltd has shut LPG production for the same reason, they said, adding the agitation has also limited movement of employees and officers who work at the refineries and oil installations.

“No employee could reach OIL facilities on Thursday,” a source said, adding things improved a bit on Friday but attendance was low.

Protesters pulled out employees from IOC refineries in Guwahati and Digboi, forcing curtailment of operations.

Sources said if the agitation were to continue for another 7-10 days, the region may face fuel supply issues as in the absence of fresh replenishment the current stocks will exhaust and supply dry up.

Bongaigaon, the third refinery in Assam, was already under maintenance shutdown when the agitation broke out.

Two people were killed and 11 injured in police firing on protestors who have taken to streets since the Parliament approved the citizenship amendment bill that would convert thousands of illegal immigrants into legal residents.

Sources said OIL suspended LPG as IOC was not able to lift the cooking fuel due to protests. OIL has also stopped all drilling operations as the staff was not able to reach work.

OIL supplies crude mainly to IOC’s Digboi refinery and BPCL’s Numaligarh unit.

The firm has also stopped production from several gas wells, curtailing supplies to tea gardens and power and fertilizer plants. However, operations at Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) fields have been largely unaffected even though employees could not reach plants at some places, they said.

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