Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has appointed a three-member committee to present a preliminary report, within three days, on the cause of Saturday’s fire at its Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) in Assam. The committee will comprise two company executives from Mumbai and one from Numaligarh.
NRL, with an annual capacity of three million tonnes, is majority-owned (61.6 per cent) by BPCL. The other equity holders are Oil India Ltd (26 per cent) and the state government (the rest). It was commissioned in 1999. Numaligarh is 250 km east of Guwahati, in Golaghat district.
It would take at least a month to restore operations, senior executives said. BPCL said one more committee would be set up to study the cause, giving a report in 15 days. Sabotage by the insurgent group, Ulfa, was suspected, but the latter has denied this.
The majority of NRL’s products are marketed through BPCL and other oil companies. It markets a small amount of its products through its own network of retail outlets.
NRL was an outcome of the 1985 Assam accord between the Union government and the organisers of a prolonged agitation led by the state’s students union. A refinery in the state to promote its industrial development was part of the agreement to end the stir.
Besides NRL, BPCL has refineries at Kochi and Mumbai. Another, Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd, promoted by BPCL and Oman Oil Company Ltd, with an annual refining capacity of six million tonnes, is coming up at Bina, Madhya Pradesh.