A video from Delhi where two men riding a motorcycle parallel to a Reliance oxygen tanker claim that the company is passing off oxygen supplied by Saudi Arabia as its own, has been widely shared on social media. The men point at Arabic text visible on the side of Reliance branding.
विडियो हुआ वाइरल। अंबानी खानदानी चोर.. क्रेडिट लेने की जल्दबाज़ी में पोस्टर भी छोटा बनवा बैठे… 😜😝😛
Posted by Yusuf Jamal on Friday, 7 May 2021
Facebook user Matin Patel posted the video and wrote in Hindi, “Ambanis are thieves… in a rush to take credit, they’ve even made small posters.” This video gained over 2 lakh views.
(Hindi text: अंबानी खानदानी चोर.. क्रेडिट लेने की जल्दबाज़ी में पोस्टर भी छोटा बनवा बैठे)
Alt News had recently debunked a 13-second clip of two men putting up Reliance Industries Limited and Reliance Foundation sticker on an oxygen tanker. It was viral with the identical claim that Reliance is taking credit for oxygen supplied by Saudi Arabia. RIL spokesperson had told Alt News at the time, “RIL has organised the airlifting of 24 ISO (empty) containers to India from Saudi Arabia, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Thailand adding 500 MT of new transportation capacity for liquid oxygen. Over the last week, they were delivered at Jamnagar refinery via Ahmedabad or Jamnagar airport.”
The 24 ISO containers were empty and not shipped filled with liquid oxygen (O2). The oxygen inside these containers was filled at RIL’s Jamnagar refinery.
This article is split into the following sections to get a better understanding of liquid O2 and the challenges faced by India in its transportation.
- What is liquid O2 and how is it stored?
- Can liquid O2 be shipped via air?
- How are cryogenic tankers being supplied to India?
WHAT IS LIQUID O2 AND HOW IS IT STORED?
A document (view PDF) on safe handling of liquid oxygen by US-based Air Products and Chemicals states, “Liquid oxygen is a cryogenic liquid. Cryogenic liquids are liquefied gases that have a normal boiling point below –130°F (–90°C). Liquid oxygen has a boiling point of –297°F (–183°C).” Liquid oxygen is not flammable but can prove to be hazardous when in contact with certain materials, including non-combustible stainless steel, carbon, zinc, etc. It can even lead to explosions, according to Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
The same document also explains, “Liquid oxygen is stored, shipped, and handled in several types of containers, depending upon the quantity required by the user. The types of containers in use include the dewar, cryogenic liquid O2 cylinder and cryogenic liquid O2 storage tank. Storage quantities vary from a few litres to many thousands of gallons.”
The tanker seen in the viral posts about Reliance is a cryogenic liquid O2 tanker.
CAN LIQUID O2 BE SHIPPED VIA AIR?
According to the International Air Transport Association/ International Civil Air Organization (IATA/ICAO), a portable oxygen concentrator is permitted as checked-in baggage or carry on baggage. The same is the case with O2 or air, gaseous, cylinders (up to 5 kgs) required for medical use however this needs approval from the airline operator and the pilot-in-command must be informed of the location. However, liquid O2 systems are forbidden for transport. (view pdf)
Air India, IngiGo, SpiceJet are members of IATA. As per Special Medical Requirements by Air India, 13 to 24 bottles of O2 with 300 litres can be carried depending on the size of the airbus. This is just sufficient for the duration of the flight for multiple passengers.
HOW ARE CRYOGENIC TANKERS BEING SUPPLIED TO INDIA?
The second wave of the pandemic has taken a toll on medical infrastructure. There has been an acute shortage of oxygen in the country, especially because transporting O2 from manufacturing units to hospitals has been a challenge. Thus, as part of COVID-19 aid, several countries have supplied empty cryogenic liquid O2 tankers to India and this has also been extensively reported in the media.
RIL spokesperson confirmed to Alt News that the cryogenic liquid O2 tanks shown on social media were shipped empty. While Alt News couldn’t independently verify this statement, not a single media report claims that cryogenic tanks filled with oxygen were shipped via airways. On the other hand, there are several reports of empty tankers received from other countries (1, 2, 3), and also airlifted domestically (1, 2, 3). Countries have supplied empty tankers which are subsequently filled in India.
The only reported case of liquified oxygen sent to India from a foreign country was via the sea route. A partnership was struck between Saudi Arabia, Linde and Adani. The Indian Embassy had tweeted on April 24 that Saudi Arabia shipped cryogenic tanks filled with 80MT of O2. There has been another deal with Adani and Reliance however, this was after the video went viral.
Embassy of India is proud to partner with Adani group and M/s Linde in shipping much needed 80MT liquid oxygen to India. Our hearfelt thanks to Ministry of Health Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all their help, support and cooperation.@MEAIndia @drausaf @SaudiMOH @HMOIndia pic.twitter.com/6j8NuGwtCB
— India in Saudi Arabia (@IndianEmbRiyadh) April 24, 2021
CNBC News18 aired a broadcast on April 23 addressing the challenges in the production and transportation of liquid oxygen in India. Tata Steel managing director TV Narendra explained, “(Cryogenic tanker) is a very technical product. It’s not to be handled casually so a lot of precautions need to be taken that’s why even converting an industrial gas cylinder into a cylinder that can carry liquid oxygen, there is a protocol. You can’t just use any cylinder or any tanker to take oxygen. So that’s why there is a bottleneck…The challenge is that you don’t even have enough containers to put on the railways. The bottleneck is currently the containers. Once you have more containers, you can exploit all these possibilities.”
A recent PTI report quotes railway minister Piyush Goyal saying, “At present, sufficient stocks of oxygen is available in the country.” The report further states, “Goyal said a fast-track system has been put in place to import oxygen from wherever supply is available. He said the services of Railways and Air Force are being used for transportation of tankers to reduce the turnaround time. Since Air Force cannot transport filled tankers, airlifting of empty-tankers is being done to manufacturing sites so that travelling time of one side can be saved.”
To sum it up, RIL and Reliance Foundation leveraged 24 empty cryogenic liquid oxygen tanks from various countries as a part of their effort to increase the capacity to transport oxygen in India. Several social media users have falsely alleged that RIL was taking credit for the oxygen given by Saudia Arabia but the tanks sent were empty and filled with liquid oxygen manufactured by RIL in Jamnagar.