COVID: Steel plants cut liquid oxygen storage to boost supply

·2-min read

New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) Steel plants have reduced their oxygen stock to just half a day from 3.5 days earlier to fulfil the shortage of the life-saving gas being used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, an official statement said on Monday. Steel plants usually keep a minimum stock of over three days of liquid oxygen from which in an emergency situation gaseous oxygen is extracted and sent for steel making process. 'The plants are normally required to keep 3.5 days of safety stock of LMO (liquid medical oxygen) in their storage tanks. Through continuous engagement with the steel producers, the stock has been reduced to 0.5 days because of which LMO supply has significantly increased,' the Ministry of Steel said in the statement. The steel plants supplied 3,131.84 tonnes LMO on Sunday to various health facilities across the states for treatment of COVID-19 patients, the ministry added. At 3,131.84 tonnes, the supply was over 8 per cent higher from 2,894 tonnes dispatched by steel plants on Saturday, the statement said. According to the ministry, the production on Sunday (April 25) was 3,468.6 tonnes, while the plants had produced 3,474 tonnes LMO on April 24, 2021. Till a week earlier, the steel plants on an average were supplying 1,500-1,700 tonnes a day, it said, adding the units have been able to enhance the supply as most of the plants have reduced production of nitrogen and argon and are producing only oxygen. To facilitate the faster movement of LMO, certain number of nitrogen and argon tankers have been converted to carry oxygen. As on date, there are 765 nitrogen tankers with a capacity of 8,345 tonnes and 434 argon tankers with a capacity of 7,642 tonnes. Permission for converting portion of them for carrying oxygen has been issued by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO). This, the ministry said, will remove a major bottleneck in transportation of LMO to states.

As on date, 1,172 tankers are available for LMO, with the capacity at 15,900 tonnes. 'Meanwhile, Bhilai Steel Plant (of SAIL) is taking a very short shut down to enhance their liquid oxygen production by 15 MT (metric tonne). This shut down will not come in the way of dispatches,' it said. Directions have been given to other Central Public Sector Enterprises-owned steel plants to explore the possibility of enhancing their capacity. PTI ABI ABM ABM