In a first, national oil marketer Indian Oil Corporation has started exports of aviation gasoline, the fuel that fires unmanned aerial vehicles and small planes -- turning a chapter in the nation's fuel history from being a net importer to an exporter.
The first consignment of 80 barrels of aviation gas (AV gas), each consisting of 16 kilolitres, was shipped from the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to Papua New Guinea over the weekend. This is the first-ever instance of India exporting this fuel, produced at IOC's Vadodara refinery, marking its entry into an estimated USD 2.7-billion global market, the company said in a statement.
Aviation gasoline powers unmanned aerial vehicles and piston-engine aircraft used by flying schools. It is a higher-octane aviation fuel meeting the product specifications with superior performance, and quality standards and is cheaper compared to imported grades. The fuel that fires the engines of large commercial jets is called aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
"The indigenous production of the gas named AV gas 100 LL will not only help save foreign exchange but will also make training in domestic flying schools economical for budding pilots," IOC chairman SM Vaidya was quoted as saying in the company statement.
The development also has military implications as it can reduce the operating costs of UAVs that are increasingly being deployed by the defence forces as force multipliers.
There is a high demand for fuel in South America, Asia Pacific, West Asia, Africa and Europe. IndianOil aims to tap into this market after addressing the domestic demand, he added.
IOC is the sole domestic manufacturer of the fuel, having begun production last September at its Vadodara facility, which has an annual capacity of 5,000 tonne. Till then the country was shipping in fuel from European refiners.
According to Vaidya, the global AV gas market is projected to grow at 5 per cent CAGR (compounded annual growth rate), while the country's aviation traffic is also likely to grow at 7 per cent CAGR. With superior performance, quality standards and competitive prices, IndianOil is aiming to secure a significant market share.
The principal grade of AV gas is designed for use in piston engine aircraft, mainly used by flying institutes and defence forces for training pilots. The gas has been tested and certified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. There are over 35 flying schools in the country and the product will benefit them.
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