Nepal | July 05, 2020

Consumers could face LPG shortage as import declines

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, September 13

Consumers may suffer from shortage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), commonly known as cooking gas, during the festive season as the import of the essential commodity has sharply declined due to the prolonged protest in the Tarai this month.

Normally, the country imports 21,000 tonnes of cooking gas each month during the summer to autumn season. However, due to the ongoing protest, less than half that amount has been imported this month.

As the festive season is nearing, the country needs to import more because consumption of cooking gas peaks in the festive season and continues till the end of the winter season along with an increase in the load-shedding hours.

As per the LP Gas Industry Association — umbrella organisation of gas bottlers in the country — monthly demand of cooking gas surpasses 26,000 tonnes during the winter season.

Shiva Prasad Ghimire, president of LP Gas Industry Association, said that the
situation could worsen because consumers could start hoarding gas cylinders and it would be difficult for bottlers and dealers to manage the situation in the festive season.

There are 53 gas bottling plants in the country.Though the government has maintained the supply of petroleum products by escorting tankers carrying the essential products with the help of security forces, a very limited number of cooking gas bullets — only 200 bullets — have entered Nepal in the last two weeks.  A bullet carries 18 tonnes of gas or 1,260 cylinders.

According to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) officials, 100 bullets are stranded at the Birgunj border along with other trucks and containers of various imported goods. Deepak Baral, spokesperson of NOC, informed that a team of NOC officials, gas bottlers and security forces will visit Raxaul to talk to officials of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Indian security forces posted at the border point, tomorrow, to help release the cooking gas bullets that are stranded and bring them to the Birgunj customs point by tomorrow evening.

“The government has prioritised getting the cooking gas bullets released from the queue to manage the supply of cooking gas,” Baral said, adding, “The meeting of the supply committee held today at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies has asked the NOC, gas bottlers and representatives of security forces to quickly manage the situation.”

The country is reliant on Indian transporters to ferry cooking gas and Indian transporters have been unwilling to ferry cooking gas citing the rising insecurity on the highways. As per NOC Spokesperson Baral, due to the long queue at the border point and prolonged protest, a large number of loaded bullets for Nepal is yet to leave the Barauni refinery of IOC.

The distance between Barauni and Birgunj is 241.7 km, which is the nearest refinery of IOC from Nepal. The Barauni refinery caters 12,000 tonnes of cooking gas monthly. The remaining amount is imported from Haldia, Karnal and Mathura.

A version of this article appears in print on September 14, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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