Oil companies may roll out BS VI fuel ahead of deadline

by Shahkar Abidi 07 Sep 2019

While the Indian automotive industry remains apprehensive over the availability of BS VI fuel across the country before the mandated deadline for BS VI emission norms being implemented from April 1 next year, the government-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) claim that they are right on track for the transition. Interestingly, two out of the three major OMCs may even end up beating the deadline, reveal insiders.

According to a senior-level executive at Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), the company will, between October 2019 and January 2020, start the process of replacing BS IV fuel right from refinery tankers to the retail stations. “So by January, we hope to be ready,” said the executive. He added that the process to replace BS IV fuel with BS VI fuel is expected to be much more rigorous than it was during the transition to BS IV. The reason for BPCL to complete the transition earlier as compared to its peers is that it started the entire process early, industry sources said.

Likewise, Gurmeet Singh, Director (Marketing) of integrated energy major Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), indicated that the company will start the replacement process by December 2019 as it is looking meet the target one month before the stipulated deadline -- by March 1, 2020.  The replacement process may last for about two to three months. " We have to test the quality during this time," said Singh. 

Meanwhile, Mukesh Surana, chairman of the ONGC-run Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) during a post-AGM briefing, said that the supply and dilution are expected to start mid-January 2020 so as to meet the deadline well within time. 

OMCs invest over Rs 30,000 crore in BS VI upgrade programme 
According to industry insiders, state-owned OMCs have so far invested over Rs 30,000 crore so as to upgrade their refineries for the production of cleaner BS VI fuels. The government had in 2016 decided to leapfrog into environmentally cleaner BS VI, skipping BS V norms altogether.

BS VI fuel contains five times fewer sulphur traces and about 70 percent lesser nitrogen oxide for diesel engine and 25 percent in case of petrol engines. The upcoming BS VI emission norms mandate sales and registration of only BS VI-compliant vehicles beginning April 1, 2020. BS VI-grade fuel is currently supplied in the national capital Delhi and adjoining the national capital region.

The automotive industry in July through its apex body, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), had called upon the state-run oil marketing companies OMCs to provide BS VI-grade fuel at least 30-45 days ahead of the scheduled deadline, multiple sources said. On their part, OMCs claim that while they are keeping in mind the concerns of automobile manufacturers, they are not in a position to commit anything on it at present.

Also read: All you need to know about BS VI

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