Fewer bullets carrying LPG to Nepal

Kathmandu, November 7

Bottlers of liquefied petroleum gas have warned of possible LPG shortage in the near future, as Indian transporters have reduced the number of bullets supplying LPG to Nepal.

Following preparations by the domestic LPG bottlers to purchase gas bullets, Indo-Nepal LPG Bulk Transport Association the Indian LPG supplying agency to Nepal has gradually reduced the number of gas bullets assigned to transport LPG to Nepal. Indian transporters have begun using the decommissioned Nepal-bound gas bullets for domestic supplies, bottlers say.

Reduction in the number of gas bullets from Indian transporters and delay in gas bullet procurement process in Nepal points to the imminent possibility of shortage of cooking gas in the near future, according to Shiva Ghimire, president of Nepal LP Gas Industry Association.

“Considering that Nepal is preparing to procure its own LPG bullets soon, Indian transporters have reduced the number of gas bullets that were previously used to deliver LPG to Nepal by almost 150 in less than two months,” Ghimire told The Himalayan Times.

He added that the government’s delay in procurement process of LPG bullets could invite a crisis, as domestic bottlers had already written to the Indian LPG transporting agency informing that they would not need to use Indian bullets from April 2017.

Based on the budget announcement for fiscal year 2016-17, Nepal Oil Corporation had authorised bottlers to procure LPG bullets. However, the process came to an abrupt halt after the Ministry of Supply said a separate bylaw was required to regulate operation of LPG bullets.

In August-end, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had seized all papers related to procurement of LPG bullets from NOC to probe suspected anomalies by NOC officials in taking decisions to grant permission to bottlers to procure LPG bullets.

In a bid to encourage LPG bottlers to procure their own gas bullets, which would save the county billions of rupees currently being paid to Indian transporters to ferry cooking gas, the government had announced only 34 per cent customs tariff would be levied on purchase of LPG bullets through the 2016-17 budget.

Nepal is completely dependent on Indian transporters for LPG supply. Around 650 bullets were being used by Indian transporters to supply LPG to Nepal, which has now been reduced to around 500, according to NLPGIA.

Meanwhile, MoS Spokesperson Surya Shrestha said the government had a contingency plan in place to ensure the market would not face LPG shortage. “We have asked all three security agencies Nepal Police, Nepali Army and Armed Police Force to procure LPG bullets and they are working on it,” Shrestha said.

“This decision was taken so that consumers do not face syndicate problem in supply of LPG once the private sector begins to supply cooking gas.”

According to him, the CIAA would soon resolve the issue regarding LPG bullets and open doors for the private sector to intensify gas-bullet purchasing process.