Kathmandu, October 25
As continuous obstruction in the movement of vehicles from India to Nepal since a month has created severe fuel crisis in the country, the government has initiated the process of signing a petroleum purchase deal with the government of China, which will pave the way for importing fuel from there.
A Nepali delegation led by Nepali Ambassador to China Mahesh Maskey, comprising officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, Ministry of Finance and Nepal Oil Corporation will leave for Beijing tomorrow to seal the government to government (G2G) level deal.
Talking to The Himalayan Times, Ambassador Maskey said it would be a new beginning in petroleum trade with the northern neighbour as the country had been entirely dependent on India for petroleum products, including liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
“The Nepali delegation will also hold technical discussions with the Chinese government-owned oil giant, China National Petroleum Corporation,” said Maskey, adding, “The pricing of petroleum products, loading capacity, loading points and other technical matters will be discussed with authorities of the CNPC.”
Along with technical level discussions, NOC and CNPC are also planning to sign a business-to-business (B2B) deal considering the severe fuel crisis in Nepal.
The Nepali delegation, during the G2G level talks, will propose waiver of taxes levied by various Chinese provinces on petroleum products to lower the cost of fuel, according to Ambassador Maskey.
“We are conscious that the price of fuel to be imported from China should not exceed the current fuel price in the domestic market.”
As the Nepali delegation is all set to go to Beijing to hold talks on a petroleum trade deal, Beijing has already pledged to provide 1,000 metric tonnes (about 1.3 million litres) of petrol as grant. This will be sufficient to cater to the demand of Kathmandu Valley for four days.
Fuel will be loaded from Kerung of China and tankers will enter from the Jilong-Rasuwagadhi route.
NOC’s Thankot depot is preparing to dispatch tankers to Kerung to bring fuel from China, informed Rabin Sharma, chief of Thankot depot. “The fuel China is providing as grant will be brought within this week.”
The country consumes 20,000 kl petrol, 75,000 kl diesel, 10,000 kl aviation turbine fuel and 21,000 tonnes of LPG every month.
Petroleum products are the top import item of the country. The annual import bill stood at Rs 110 billion last fiscal. NOC will no longer need to be dependent on Indian Oil Corporation for purchase of fuel after the petroleum purchase deal is finalised with China.
A version of this article appears in print on October 26, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.