Wednesday, Aug 28, 2002
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Though oil industry vouches against the possibility of any off-specification product leaving its installations, the trade has said that it faces a piquant situation.
``When two different loads of petrol are mixed, the density of the resultant product does not conform to the prescribed quality parameters. Such a trend is being reported at many outlets, from the middle of this month'', according to the Tamilnadu Petroleum Dealers Association.
``The petrol supplied by the oil companies is in different densities, ranging from 0.7200-plus to 0.7600-plus. If the density of petrol received differs marginally, around 0.0100, it is acceptable. But, if the difference ranges between 0.0200 and 0.0400, the density of the mixed product will be erratic and it takes days for settling, said the Association President, M.Kannan. Admitting that marginal variation, within the tolerance limit, does occur if the product is drawn from different storage tanks, an oil company official denied the possibility of sub- standard products being sent to the market.
``All the products dispatched from refineries and terminals conform to Bureau of Indian Standard norms'', he explained, without discounting the possibility of adulteration taking place elsewhere in the supply chain. Incidentally, all the tankers attached to the oil terminals that feed the city and neighbourhood are fitted with tamper-proof locks. The issue surfaced during the recent tests conducted, at petrol bunks, by the Mobile Testing Laboratory of the oil industry. One retail outlet each in North and Central Chennai was closed down recently for a few days after density variation was noticed. Both were, however, allowed to resume operations after detailed tests on the sample.
Such complaints from dealers are increasing, M. Kannan, the Dealers Association President points out, adding that ``the issue would have gone unnoticed, but for the recent practice of the laboratory to take into account the dealer's tank density after last receipt. Earlier, the morning density of the tank (as per the RO density register) was taken into account for testing purposes''. What is agitating the dealer community is the fact that during quality awareness campaigns, the customers are advised to take the morning density, which is recorded and displayed by the retail outlets as reference for any checks. Oil industry officials say the chances of density difference, within the quality band, is possible when the product comes from two refineries. This criterion would apply as petrol was sourced from elsewhere after product supplies of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL),, was allegedly disrupted for a few days recently The episode assumes significance as Shambu Kallolikar, Regional Director of the Anti-Adulteration Cell, of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said, ``the trend now is to employ intelligent mixes to adulterate the product and deal in it for a few hours''.
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