IOC Starts Producing 'Reference' Petrol, Diesel For Testing Automobiles

For decades, India relied on imports to meet the demand for these specialised fuels
In Delhi, diesel costs Rs 86.67 a litre at the petrol pump.
In Delhi, diesel costs Rs 86.67 a litre at the petrol pump.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has begun producing specialised 'reference' petrol and diesel, which are used for testing automobiles, for the first time in India, sources said.

These fuels, which have higher specifications, are critical for calibrating and testing by automobile manufacturers and testing agencies like the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) and the Automotive Research Association of India.

For decades, India relied on imports to meet the demand for these specialised fuels.

But now, IOC has indigenously developed products that will replace imports, ensuring a reliable supply at a much lower cost for vehicle manufacturers and testing agencies, sources said.

Fuel retailers like IOC sell petrol and diesel of primarily two kinds - regular and premium, through their fuel station network. The biggest difference between the normal and premium fuel lies in the octane number. The regular fuel boasts an octane number of 87, but premium fuel has an octane number of 91 or even more.

The octane number is nothing but a unit to measure the ignition quality of petrol.

However, for vehicle testing purposes, the fuel has to be of a higher grade than regular or premium petrol and diesel. The host of specifications -- from Cetane number to flash point, viscosity, sulphur and water content, hydrogen purity and acid number -- are listed under government regulations, such fuels are referred to as 'reference' petrol/diesel.

These reference fuels are used for emission testing of vehicles equipped with spark ignition engines.

Sources said since the volume requirements for such fuels were traditionally not very high, refineries did not produce them. All the requirements of 'reference' for vehicle testing were imported.

IOC in line with the government's objective of becoming Aatmanirbhar, or self-reliant, has started producing the fuel at its refineries.

The fuel, they said, is likely to be unveiled for the first time at a function on Thursday. The event is likely to feature Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

Besides IOC, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) are the other two dominant fuel retailers in the country. Between them, the three state-owned firms control roughly 90 per cent of the market.

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