Covid: RIL in talks to buy tankers for transport of liquid medical oxygen

India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases being reported daily in the past few days


Reliance Industries | Oxygen | Health crisis


Several states including Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai, have issued advisories to hospitals to use their oxygen supplies with care.

As India’s health infrastructure gasps for oxygen, Reliance Industries is in talks with VRV Asia Pacific, a Chart Group company, and a few others to purchase tankers for transporting liquid medical oxygen (LMO), said a top executive at VRV.

India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases being reported daily in the past few days. Hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

Reliance is likely to get tankers that can hold and transport up to 40,000 litres of liquid oxygen to large makeshift Covid facilities and hospitals.

It is also exploring ways with VRV to have smaller tanks installed, GL Rangnekar, managing director (MD), VRV, said.

VRV designs and manufactures cryogenic equipment at its unit at Sri City, Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the three companies in the country that makes cryogenic storage tanks, rigid tankers and trailers.

A spokesperson at RIL declined to comment. A person privy to the development confirmed that the company has been in talks to set up on-site storage but nothing has been finalised yet.

“We have been in talks with RIL. It will be picking up big stationary tanks for LMO storage and trailers for transportation. We have shared relevant details with it. It is likely to commission them at large Covid care facilities that have hundreds of patients in need of oxygen,” said Rangnekar.

RIL may source very large tanks and tankers. Typically, it takes little over a month to commission these tanks at a site. Therefore, to expedite supplies, it’s also in discussion with VRV for small portable tanks made by Chart in the US of 200 litres capacity. They are easy to commission at Covid facilities.

Oxygen moves through tankers to big hospitals where it is put in storage created for the purpose. Smaller hospitals or nursing homes get their supply in cylinders, which are also in short supply. The number of cylinders and tankers required should ideally be double that of the oxygen demand because empty ones go for refilling. This situation can be avoided if hospitals themselves host small oxygen plants.

Meanwhile, the Chart group company, which also makes cryogenic cylinders and LMO tankers for trailers, is also in touch with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). It is supporting many hospitals in augmenting capacities amid the severe shortage of LMO at Covid care facilities.

VRV is making 100 to 150 cryogenic cylinders per month and also has some stock. “We are working 24 hours. Last 10 days, we have supplied 100-150 cylinders to various hospitals,” Rangnekar said. It is ramping up capacity and also importing the same from Chart’s US facilities.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Sun, April 25 2021. 20:08 IST