'Very strong plan' to ensure defence fuel supplies; 500 trucks move to refill depots

Oil companies, officials said, carry out winter stocking in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the onset of winter every year.

New Delhi: As India Pakistan tension escalated, Indian oil companies have put in motion a "very strong plan" including moving a convoy of 500 trucks to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies to all defence and strategic assets, top officials said Wednesday.

Tanks feeding defence establishment in forward areas along the border with Pakistan are all "topped up" and have enough fuel to meet any eventuality, they said.

Oil companies had topped up all storages in Jammu and Kashmir and other forward areas before the Tuesday's pounding of a terrorist camp inside Pakistan as retaliation to Jaish-e-Mohammed operative killing 40 paramilitary personnel in a suicide car bombing in Kashmir on February 14.

And now, as many as 500 oil tankers are being moved to the state and other forward locations to stock up jet fuel (ATF), diesel and other petroleum products for ensuring fuel supplies beyond the 10-day stock firms generally maintain, they said.

Indian and Pakistani fighter jets shot down war planes of each other on Wednesday in the most serious military confrontation between the two nations in decades.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) supply jet fuel for the fighter jets of Indian Air Force as well as diesel and other fuel for tanks, trucks and other automobiles used by defence and paramilitary forces.

"We have a very strong plan in place (to ensure uninterrupted supplies)," an official said. The requirement of defence services as a percentage of over 190 million tonnes of fuel consumed in the country is "very small" but the task is ensuring its uninterrupted availability especially in forward posts in Jammu and Kashmir, another official said.

Oil companies, they said, carry out winter stocking in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the onset of winter every year and they had moved enough quantities of fuel to the state to meet fuel requirement of the civilians as well as defence establishment.

A separate official said Indian oil companies had ensured fuel uninterrupted fuel supplies to defence forces even during the Kargil war in 1999. "One is reminded of a picture in the newspapers during the height of Kargil war of a burning Indian Oil tanker alongside Bofors gun. We ensured fuel reached forces at all times," he said.

Officials refused to discuss specifics of the plan of ensuring uninterrupted fuel supplies because of "strategic reasons." "Please leave that to us," one of them said.

Officials said the plan is in place not just for ensuring fuel supplies but also for protecting oil assets like tankages storing fuel and refineries. Some oil refineries on the west coast are provided air cover by the Indian Air Force and other installations are also being provided security, they said.

Oil companies to advance winter stocking to meet requirements of the Leh and Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir and forward areas of Himachal Pradesh which are cut off from the rest of the country due to snowfall.

Total fuels supplied this year was about 102,850 tonne (121,000 kilo litre). Ambala, Jalandhar, Sangrur and Bhatinda were the supply points that moved fuel to storage depots about 900 km away.

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