India’s plan to build stockpile with millions of barrels of crude oils is in the final phase. It is being build on the lines of the reserves that the United states and some of its allies had set up in 1973-74 after the oil crisis. Under the first stage of the project, underground rock caverns for storage of at least 5.33 MMT of crude oil at three locations, which are Mangalore (1.5 MMT), Padur (2.5 MMT) and Visakhapatnam (1.33 MMT).
The facility at Visakhapatnam, in underground rock caverns connected by tunnels under the hills around Andhra Pradesh’s biggest city, has been filled up as also Mangalore storage facility in which a quarter has also been filled, ‘The Indian Express’ report has said .
The commissioning of the storage facility at Padur, which has also been completed, is expected shortly. Total expenditure for the entire project is around Rs 4,098.35 crore, out of which 3,552.59 has already been disbursed till the end of the last month, the paper quoted official saying.
In the Visakhapatnam project, around 8 million cubic metres of rock that weighed over 21 million tonnes had to be scooped out of the earth in order to create caverns. The water was let into the rocks around the tunnel at high pressure to prevent the crude from seeping out.
A process known as ‘hydraulic confinement’ — and the mouths of the tunnels were closed after that with concrete plugs three metres thick by the executing utility — the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) — a vehicle floated as a subsidiary of the Oil Industry Development Board for the management of the strategic crude storage. Other two projects at Mangalore and Padur,were also offered pipeline connections from the nearest ports.