Coronavirus | India's oxygen supply crisis expected to ease by mid-May

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Coronavirus | India's oxygen supply crisis expected to ease by mid-May

Empty chemical tankers are seen onboard the new military bogie to a liquid liquid before being moved to a liquid oxygen plant from another state for refilling with liquid oxygen, amid the spread of coronavirus disease in the outskirts of Mumbai, India on April 19th, 2021.ReUTERS Francis Mascarenhas File Photo

The India's dramatic health problem with medical oxygen delivery is expected to ease by mid-May, a top industry executive told Reuters, with output increasing by 25% and transport infrastructure ready to cope with a boom in demand caused by a drastic rise in coronavirus cases.

Dozens of hospitals have run short of gas this month in cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi, sometimes in vain, sending relatives of patients scrambling for oxygen cylinders.The medical consumption in India has increased from the usual levels of around 7,200 tonnes per day to about eight-fold this month, said Moloy Banerjee of Linde Plc, the country's largest producer.

This is what is causing the crisis because no one was prepared to it, particularly with the steep curve up, Reuters told on Thursday after Banerjee, who heads China's South Asia gas business.

Linde - whose two subsidiaries in the country are Linde India and Praxair India - and other suppliers are ramping up production to a total of more than 9,000 tonnes per day by the middle of next month, he said.

A logistics crisis that is preventing the speedy movement of oxygen from surplus areas to more devastated northern and western areas would be resolved in the coming weeks as more distribution assets are deployed, said Banerjee.

My expectation is that by the middle of May we will have an infrastructure in place to service this demand across the country, he said.

Linde said India importing around 100 liquid medical containers to transport large quantities of cryogenic oxygen, with Banerjee providing 60 of those.Some are being flown by Indian Air Force aircraft.

Many of these containers will be placed on multi-scale trains that would cut across the country and each transports between 80-160 tonnes of liquid oxygen and then are delivered to different cities.

The company is also looking to increase the number of oxygen cylinders in its distribution network to at least 10,000, which would improve supply to rural areas with weak infrastructure.

We are trying to create a hub and spoke type of system so that we make a lot of local oxygen available at the local area from where local dealers can pick it up, Banerjee said.

On Thursday -- India's daily COVID 19 cases passed 18 million after another world record number of total infections.

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