Kathmandu, March 21
Gas bottlers have said that crisis of cooking fuel will not end immediately if the supply from India does not increase.
They have assumed that it would take at least another two months for the supply of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to return to normal in the country if the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) does not increase the supply to Nepal. In this regard, the gas bottlers have also urged the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) — the state-owned petroleum company — to request IOC to increase supply to Nepal considering the prolonged crisis of cooking fuel due to short-supply since last five months.
The supply of cooking fuel became regular only from the beginning of this month, informed Shiva Prasad Ghimire, president of LP Gas Industry Association.
The country’s monthly demand of LPG hovers at around 30,000 tonnes during normal times, but the total import between October of last year to February this year stood at merely 36,500 tonnes, as the import of cooking gas and other daily essentials were crippled due to the border blockade organised by Madhes-based political parties since the last week of September, last year.
The agitating parties ended the blockade officially on February 8. Even after that, the daily import of cooking gas stood at average of 45 bullets last month. During normal times, IOC refineries — located at Barauni, Haldia and Mathura — used to supply 60 bullets per day.
“The supply of fuel has been normalised since last three weeks, but the current supply from IOC is not sufficient to meet the demand,” said Ghimire, adding, “We require 40,000 tonnes of cooking gas for at least two months to restore the normal supply of cooking fuel.”
Currently, there are around 6.5 million cylinders — half of them empty — that have been circulated in the market, as per Ghimire.
According to the Gas Dealers Federation Nepal, they have instructed the dealers to distribute gas in first come, first served basis. There is a long queue of people lining up to refill LPG each day because of the large number of empty cylinders due to prolonged crisis of cooking fuel.
The Ministry of Supplies had implemented the system of half-filled cylinders to cater to larger number of consumers when the crisis was at peak. The system was suspended after the end of border blockade.
NOC, has said that it has requested IOC to increase the supply so that it can restore the normal supply of LPG.
“The supply of cooking gas from India has been normalised since last three weeks, but this is not adequate to meet the current demand,” admitted Mukunda Prasad Ghimire, spokesperson for NOC. He further said that consumption of cooking gas marginally declines in summer, when compared to winter months. However, consumption of cooking fuel increases immediately with the start of festive season and continues throughout the winter season.
“So, if the supply situation is not normalised by the onset of festive season, shortage of LPG will turn into a vicious cycle.”
A version of this article appears in print on March 22, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.