NOC withdraws plan to promote ‘infeasible' model petrol pumps

Kathmandu, July 29

The state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has retracted from its earlier plan to promote the construction of high-tech fuel stations, popularly known as ‘model petrol pumps' across the country.

Though NOC had introduced the concept of such high-tech fuel stations through the Distribution Bylaw of Petroleum Products a year back and has already issued licences to almost three dozen firms to construct model fuel stations, NOC has lately found the concept infeasible after not a single fuel dealer who acquired the licence started the construction of the model petrol pump.

Following this, NOC is preparing to amend the Distribution Bylaw of Petroleum Products once again prioritising to make existing fuel stations smart.

“Though we earlier introduced the concept of model petrol pumps, it seems to be infeasible basically because construction of such fuel stations requires huge space and investment. As investors are more focused on setting up such petrol pumps in city areas, land availability in cities is difficult,” informed Sushil Bhattarai, acting deputy managing director of NOC.

As stated in the bylaw, model fuel stations need to fulfil various parameters and it will cost at least Rs 10 million to construct a model station. As per regulation, such fuel stations need to be built on 13 ropanis of land in Tarai region and on five ropanis of land in Hilly and Himalayan areas.

These fuel stations also need to ensure regular water and power supply and must have at least two toilets for men, four toilets for women and one for handicapped people. Similarly, such stations must also have ample parking space, well-managed drainage and separate sales counters for petrol and diesel, along with high-capacity petroleum storage facility.

“It is because of the infeasibility that investors are still not coming forward to construct such petrol pumps in spite of acquiring licences,” added Bhattarai.

Moreover, Bhattarai said that a few firms who have acquired the licence to construct model petrol pumps have approached NOC citing their inability to construct such fuel stations. However, he informed that NOC is gearing up to make all fuel stations across the country smart and technology-friendly, which includes promoting digital payment and billing system in every fuel station.

There are almost 2,500 fuel stations across Nepal.

As per Bhattarai, automation of fuel stations is necessary also because NOC plans to implement daily fuel price adjustment system in the country in the long run.