Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd has tweaked manufacturing at its Jamnagar oil refineries to produce over 700 tonnes a day of medical-grade oxygen which is being supplied free of cost to states badly affected by COVID-19, sources said.
The company’s Jamnagar refineries in Gujarat initially produced 100 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen, which has quickly been ramped up to over 700 tonnes, people aware of the matter said.
The supplies being made to states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will provide relief to over 70,000 critically ill patients everyday.
The company plans to raise medical-grade oxygen production capacity to 1,000 tonnes, sources said, without giving a timeline. An e-mail sent to the company for comments remained unanswered.
Medical-grade oxygen is not a product that was produced at the Jamnagar refineries, which convert crude oil into products such as diesel, petrol and jet fuel.
But with demand for oxygen rising due to a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, Reliance has installed equipment and set up processes to produce and supply medical-grade oxygen. Sources said industrial oxygen is being diverted to produce medical-grade oxygen.
“Every day nearly 700 tonnes of oxygen is being supplied to states across India. This will provide relief to over 70,000 critically ill patients daily,” one of the persons said.
The entire supply of oxygen, including transportation in special tankers at minus 183 degrees Celsius is made at no cost to the state governments, sources said, adding this was a part of the company’s CSR initiative. State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) too have begun diverting oxygen produced at their refineries to supplement the availability of medical oxygen in states worst hit by COVID-19.
IOC on Monday said it has “begun the supply of 150 tonnes of oxygen at no cost to various hospitals in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab.”
Separately, BPCL said it has started supply of 100 tonnes of oxygen at no cost. Oil refineries can produce limited volumes of industrial oxygen in air-separation plants meant for nitrogen production. Scrubbing out other gases such as carbon dioxide can convert it into medical-use oxygen with 99.9 per cent purity.