Nepal looks for alternate fuel supplies as crisis deepens

Nepal Thursday floated a global tender seeking bids for the supply of fuel to the landlocked country as the crisis surrounding petroleum products deepened due to continued blockade of a key border trade point with India amid protests over the new Constitution.

PTI| Updated: Oct 08, 2015, 18:14 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepal Thursday floated a global tender seeking bids for the supply of fuel to the landlocked country as the crisis surrounding petroleum products deepened due to continued blockade of a key border trade point with India amid protests over the new Constitution.

Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has asked the interested firms to fill the tender for the distribution of fuel within a three-day deadline, according to sources at the NOC, the sole government body authorised to import oil from India.

The NOC floated the tender to import petroleum products from any country through any medium as life is hit hard in Nepal due to acute fuel shortage following the blockade by Madhesi parties.

"The state oil monopoly has been given the responsibility to import aviation fuel, petroleum, diesel, kerosene and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) from any country through any means by the Cabinet," according to officials.

Suppliers will have to provide 200 kilolitres of diesel, 100 kilolitres of petrol, 200 kilolitres each of aviation fuel and kerosene, and 100 metric tonne of LPG on a daily basis by air or land route to meet the country's demand for 15 days.

According to NOC's acting Director Mukunda Ghimire, a global tender has been called to ease the distribution of petroleum products ahead of festival season.

As fuel crisis deepens, the government is also considering airlifting petroleum products ahead of Hindu festivals like Vijaya Dashami and Deepawali.

According to media reports, NOC has suggested the government of constructing a petroleum storage plant in the Nepal-China border area.

Nepal is looking for possibilities of bringing oil, LPG and other essential goods from China and the recently opened Tatopani border entry point along the Araniko Highway will be used for the purpose.

The Commerce Ministry had written to NOC last week to work on possibility of importing petroleum products through alternative means after the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) "unilaterally started restriction on fuel supply to Nepal", the Kathmandu Post reported.

With IOC -- the sole supplier of petroleum products to Nepal for over 40 years -- denying adequate fuel supply due to "Indian government's unofficial blockade", the government has been forced to look for alternatives, the paper said.

Only a few tankers carrying fuel and cooking gas have entered Nepal from India over the past two couple of weeks as the Madhesi groups have staged almost daily protests near the main border points between the countries.