The Centre’s decision to double the target of blending ethanol with petrol to 10 per cent has received a major setback in West Bengal, with petroleum dealers showing reluctance in selling the product unless there is proper infrastructure, awareness among people and most importantly it doesn’t suit the “wet” climatic condition in major parts of the state.
The decision to blend ethanol with petrol was taken to check pollution and help loss making sugar companies.Recently, the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have increased the percentage of blending of ethanol in petroleum from 5 per cent to 10 per cent in West Bengal.
According to some owners of petrol refilling stations, it is leading to major problems on a regular basis, as owners of vehicles are holding them responsible when their cars were stopping on midway, a few minutes after refilling the blended petrol.
Explaining the reason, Tushar Kanti Sen, President of the West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’Association, said: “The moisture level in most of the South Bengal districts are much higher. As a result, formation of water-vapour inside the half-filled oil tank of a car or a motor-bike is quite obvious and the vapour finally settles down in the tanker in the form of water.
When the tanker of a vehicle is refilled with ethanol blended petrol, the fuel gets thinner as the ethanol gets mixed with the water. It increases chances of water getting passed to the engine instead of petrol and the vehicle stops after running a few kilometres. Such problem had hardly surfaced even when the OMCs, used to supply petrol blended with 5 per cent ethanol.”
As a result, the petroleum dealers were showing reluctance in selling the petrol blended with 10 per cent ethanol. The reason being customers are accusing them of selling poor quality petrol as they are not aware of the precautions which needs to be taken to use highly ethanol blended petrol.
There are also problems with the existing infrastructure of storing petrol in the refilling stations as there is no proper mechanism to drain out the water completely from the underground tankers.
The states which are along the coast line in the country are facing the problem due to high level of moisture in the air.
Thus, the petroleum dealers have placed two point demands before the OMCs – technical support to keep the underground tankers in refilling stations moisture free and awareness among people about the precautions they should take to avoid facing inconvenience.
Members of the West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association met the senior officials of the Indian Oil Corporation last week and raised the problems they are facing for increase the percentage of ethanol blend. Top brass of three OMCs held meeting after the association had placed their demands.
The members of the association would again sit on July 8 to decide their next course of action to come out of the problem, said Sen.