India plans 50% increase in oxygen production amid fears of third wave

Bengaluru: India aims to ramp up its medical oxygen production capacity to 15,000 tonnes per day before a potential third wave of coronavirus infections that is expected to hit the country as soon as mid-September, an industry executive said.

The target implies a 50% jump from the maximum output of almost 10,000 tonnes reached earlier this year during the peak of the second COVID-19 wave, when hospitals ran short of the gas and relatives of patients had to search out oxygen cylinders.While demand for medical oxygen in India has considerably reduced since the peak, reaching near pre-COVID levels, gas companies along with the government are gearing up for a scenario where the third wave could be worse than the previous one.

The New Delhi government said last month it will increase oxygen production by setting up new manufacturing units or expanding the production capacity of existing units for uninterrupted oxygen supply during a health crisis.Shares of Linde India rose to record levels in the days following the Delhi government’s notification and have more than doubled for the year as of Monday’s closing price.”There have been discussions with the Delhi government since the second wave of COVID-19. We are still reviewing the policy and trying to see if it is workable for Linde,” Banerjee added.

Linde has also been in touch with the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states to support setting up of additional oxygen storage capacities and manufacturing units.