HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal Oil Corporation is running out of stock.
“The remaining stock will barely last a week,” said Thankot depot chief Bhuwaneshwor Rajbhandari.
The state-oil monopoly has been using its stock to meet the demand for fuel. It imported only 236 kl petrol and 220 kl diesel today, but supplied 279 kl petrol and 377 kl diesel.
Even though its board decided yesterday to distribute petroleum products from its storage in Thankot depot, it has only 1,000 kl petrol and 2,500 kl diesel in stock.
As NOC and petroleum dealers blamed each other for the fuel crisis, the Department of Commerce stepped in to monitor petrol pumps and check whether dealers were hoarding petroleum as alleged by NOC.
“The department monitored some 15 petrol pumps today,” Anil Thakur, director general at the department said, adding that the department, did not find any pump hoarding petrol.
A meeting held at District Administration Office (DAO) yesterday had decided to monitor petrol pumps. Similarly, the NOC board also decided to intensify market monitoring of petroleum products. “NOC is supplying petroleum products as per normal demand projection, but the market has been witnessing severe shortage,” Ganesh Prasad Dhakal, spokesperson at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) said.
Dealers, on the other hand, blamed consumers of storing fuel and creating shortage and denied the charge they are hoarding petroleum.
“NOC is at present supplying only 60 to 70 per cent of the normal fuel consumed, Saroj Prasad Pande, president of Nepal Petroleum Dealers’’ National Association (NPDNA) said, adding that the demand side has increased two-fold due to scarcity in the last two weeks. He asked the government to monitor the pumps silently instead of making a loud noise.
Consumer rights activists have dubbed the monitoring carried out by the Department of Commerce a ‘drama’. “Petroleum dealers do not hoard petroleum products openly,”Jyoti Baniya, an activist said, adding that dealers might have constructed more tanks for the purpose of hoarding which the government has failed to monitor.
Amid this controversy, Nepal Oil Corporation sought another Rs 1.75 billion loan from the government. However, it has not received any response from the Finance Ministry so far.
“NOC broad meeting yesterday decided to increase the import of petroleum products, use the stock at NOC to ease the current crisis and monitor the market,” Ganesh Prasad Dhakal said.
The meeting could not decide on price hike. “Even though NOC board can hike the price, it is awaiting a report from the high level committee on NOC,” Dhakal said. The report is expected in a week.
NOC supply chart
Petrol — 279 kl
Diesel — 377 kl
Petrol — 282.6 kl
Diesel – 385 kl
Petrol — 275 kl
Diesel — 385 diesel kl
Petrol — 311 kl
Diesel — 415 kl