Dove: Lanka IOC, the unit of India’s largest oil company, has instructed all of its 216 fuel pumps in Sri Lanka to maintain a separate fuel stock for supplying ambulances in the troubled island nation.

The company, which is a subsidiary of state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), is operating all its fuel pumps as normal and stocking up to cope with the increased rush, Lanka IOC managing director told PTI, Manoj Gupta.

Sri Lanka plunged into a new crisis on Monday after its President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country in the face of massive protests and a collapsing economy.

Lanka IOC, which sources petroleum products from the parent company in India, has stepped up operations to meet the increased demand for fuel.

It sells some 1,500 kiloliters (1.5 million liters) of gasoline and diesel from its gas pumps daily, Gupta said.

Lanka IOC pumps are experiencing long queues as supplies dry up at most of the 1,300 bunkers operated by Sri Lanka’s state oil company Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

With depleted foreign exchange reserves, CPC faces oil import problems. Countries like India require payment in advance for the supply of fuel after credit lines are exhausted.

The bankrupt nation is offering fuel quota to companies that can pay CPC dollars.

Lanka IOC had captured a market share of around 19% a few years ago, but it fell to 13% after the state-owned company sold fuel at subsidized rates. With the price correction in recent months, its market share is on the rise again.

Apart from fuel retail, Lanka IOC also has bunkering operations at Trincomalee Port from where it has supplied some 7,500 tonnes of diesel to CPC over the past five days, Gupta said.

Supply to Trincomalee tank farms was temporarily halted on Wednesday after the army and police were called following the declaration of an emergency.

CPC imports fuel and crude oil into Trincomalee for nationwide supply.

Gupta said tank farm supplies are expected to resume shortly.

“We are all safe and our operations are normal,” he said. “We are seeing long queues at our sheds (petrol pumps) and increased supplies.”

Lanka IOC, he said, has required all its fuel pumps to maintain a stock of 300 liters at all times to meet ambulance needs.

“We have advised all of our dealerships to ensure priority refueling of ambulances. We cannot imagine these services being suspended,” he said. “It is our commitment to continue to meet the energy needs of the Sri Lanka.”

Currently, 9 Indians are working at Lanka IOC – 7 people in Colombo and 2 people in Trincomalee.