Muscat: Majority state-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has announced that it has begun distributing thousands of litres of increasingly scarce hand-sanitizer liquid across its Block 6 concession for use in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The company is now weighing plans to offer this desperately sought-after hygiene product for broader distribution across Oman.
“We are proud of our Production Chemistry Department who have successfully engineered a hand sanitiser that is in line with the WHO standard and is approved by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,” said PDO in a tweet.
The announcement comes as pharmacies and supermarkets have all but run of hand sanitizers in the face of an exponential increase in demand not only in Oman but across the wider world. Dispensed as a gel or liquid-based product, sanitizers with a minimum 70 percent alcohol content are known to kill 99.9 percent of germs or viruses when suitably applied to one’s hands.
Tasked with finding ways to alleviate the critical shortage of hand sanitizer in the Sultanate, PDO’s Production Chemistry Department quickly came up with samples that were tested externally, said PDO.
Since then, 30,000 litres have been produced and more than 20,000 litres of hand sanitiser have been despatched to countless sites across our concession area and now hospitals,” said PDO on Thursday. “The team plans to produce a further 16,000 litres in the next two weeks.”
Importantly, PDO now plans to channel part of this output to help alleviate rising demand for hand sanitisers elsewhere around the Sultanate. “Options for broader distribution outside PDO are being considered,” it said.
A scramble for hand sanitisers at the outset of COVID-19’s spread in the Sultanate led to instances of price-gouging and even substandard products being sold in the local market. At least one well-known pharmacy was fined by the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) for inflating the price of a sanitizer brand without approval, while several dubious brands were pulled from stores.
Meanwhile, global chemicals giant Oxea, a wholly-owned subsidiary of OQ (formerly Oman Oil and Orpic Group), has announced a donation of 3,000 litres of propanol – a key ingredient in the manufacture of hand sanitizer and other disinfectants that may be used in the fight against COVID-19.
The propanol was supplied by the international company’s Oberhausen (Germany) plant to a number of large pharmacies in Germany with capabilities to manufacture sanitizer for eventual distribution to clinics, retirement homes and other centres.