Billionaire Ambani sends oxygen from his refineries to aid India’s Covid fight

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managingdDirector of Reliance Industries. - Reuters

MUMBAI (Bloomberg): Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is diverting oxygen produced at his refineries to help India battle a savage coronavirus outbreak that’s paralysed the commercial capital as daily new infections spike by a record.

Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., which operates the world’s biggest refining complex in western India, has started supplying oxygen from Jamnagar to Maharashtra at no cost, according to a company official, who asked not to be identified due to internal policy.

The western state will get 100 tonnes of the gas from Reliance, Eknath Shinde, urban development minister, said in a tweet.

India is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that has caught the federal and state governments unprepared, with local media reporting that patients are dying due to a shortage of oxygen and hospital beds.

Maharashtra state is home to the financial hub of Mumbai where the fresh outbreak is most severe, and where Ambani officially resides and Reliance has its headquarters.

Reliance is diverting some oxygen streams meant for its petroleum coke gasification units after making it suitable for medical use, the official said. A company spokesman couldn’t immediately comment.

Separately, state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp. has built up a stockpile of 20 tonnes of oxygen at its Kochi refinery in southern India that it is supplying to bottlers for medical use, a company official said. Nobody responded to an email sent to BPCL’s press office.

Refineries can produce limited volumes of industrial oxygen in air-separation plants meant for nitrogen production. Medical-use oxygen can be extracted by scrubbing out other gases, such as carbon dioxide, to make it 99.9% pure.

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