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By Samuel R. Avro on Jan 9, 2009 with no responses

India About To Run Out of Fuel Amid Oil Strike

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Motorcyclists formed long lines in search of fuel as the strike has limited fuel supplies across the entire country.

A strike by about 50,000 workers at the state-run oil companies has caused a severe fuel shortage in India, with just 25% of fuel pumps left with supplies in the capital New Delhi. The shortage has caused many flight cancellations across the country, as the strike entered its third day.

Mile-long queues were forming in the city at the roughly 100 filling stations that remained with supplies, and after an average wait time of an hour were only given rationed fuel.

According to a petroleum official, fuel supplies are expected to run out in the nation’s capital by the evening.

The office workers at the state-run oil companies are demanding a pay raise, and without them output has dropped to about 40 percent of capacity at nearly a dozen state-run oil refineries across the country.

Only 200 to 300 taxis remained on the road in Mumbai, a city that has more than 50,000 members in its taxi union.

“It’s badly affected us because all the taxis and autorickshaws run on compressed natural gas (CNG). The supply of CNG has completely stopped,” Anthony Quadros, general secretary of the Bombay Taximen’s Union told AFP.

Talks between the government and the union failed to end the strike Thursday night. “The talks were inconclusive and our strike is on,” Amit Kumar, the president of the Oil Sector Officers’ Association said.

The government is threatening to take action as the shortages are beginning to paralyze the country. “I can’t go into the details but if someone from the army has to be called they will be called,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said.

West Bengal, the country’s most densely populated state, announced that they had begun a fuel rationing system in an attempt to avert a crisis as most fuel pumps have run dry in the region.

More than 150 flights were delayed or canceled across the country on Thursday, although New Delhi’s airport didn’t suffer as much after the army was brought in to assist in the fueling process.

At least 60 per cent of the fuel pumps in the country have run dry since the strike began and that number is steadily increasing.