India aims to ramp up its medical oxygen production capacity to 15,000 tons per day before a possible third wave of coronavirus infections is expected to hit the country in mid-September, an industry director said.
The target implies a 50% jump from the peak output of nearly 10,000 tons achieved earlier this year during the peak of the second COVID-19 wave, when hospitals ran out of gas and relatives of patients had to look for oxygen bottles .
Linde India supplied almost a third of the total oxygen demand during the peak.
Moloy Banerjee, head of Linde South Asia, said that while the government is aiming for 15,000 tons of medical oxygen per day, Linde and other manufacturers hoped to reach production of at least 13,500 tons per day for the third wave.
On Monday, India’s total number of COVID-19 cases was 33.03 million, with deaths at 4,40,752, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
While demand for medical oxygen in India has declined significantly since its peak, reaching near pre-COVID levels, gas companies and the government are preparing for a scenario where the third wave could be worse than the last.
The Delhi government said last month it will increase oxygen production by setting up new production units or expanding the production capacity of existing units to provide 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 since Monday’s closing price.
“Since the second wave of COVID-19, there have been discussions with the Delhi government. We are still reviewing the policy and trying to see if it is workable for Linde,” added Mr Banerjee.
The company has not entered into a formal agreement with the government.
Linde has also been in contact with the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to support the establishment of additional oxygen storage capacity and production units.