India’s northeastern states may be hit by a fuel crunch if the ongoing street protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act continues for another week as it has already led to the shutdown of oil refineries and producing facilities in the region, sources said.
State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has been forced to shut down its refinery in Digboi in Assam and is operating the Guwahati unit at minimal.
Similarly, Oil India Ltd (OIL), also state-run, has been forced to shut its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) production and its crude oil production has dropped by 15-20 percent, sources in the two companies said.
They said the ongoing 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 the absence of products being evacuated, they said.
OIL has shut the 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.
If the agitation continues for another 7-10 days, the region may face fuel supply crunch as fresh replenishment to the current stocks will exhaust and supply would dry up, sources said.
Bongaigaon, which has the third refinery in Assam, was already under maintenance shutdown when the agitation broke out.
Sources said OIL suspended LPG as IOC was not able to lift the cooking fuel due to the protests.
OIL has also stopped all drilling operations as the staff were not able to reach their workplace. It supplies crude mainly to IOC’s Digboi refinery and BPCL’s Numaligarh unit.
The firm has 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.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Critics across India say the bill is discriminatory. In the north-east, protesters claim they will be “overrun” by migrants.