Price par blow to adulteraters

Kathmandu, December 17:

Popularly called the poor man’s fuel, kerosene had become a goldmine for some petroleum products traders. They were mixing it in petrol and diesel to make huge profits, but after the price of kerosene and diesel was brought at par they got a jolt as that left them little extra profit. Recent data of kerosene sale proves this.

The state oil monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) lived up to its promise and slashed retail prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene thrice since October 25. This December, it fixed the price of kerosene at Rs 60.50 per litre which is on par with diesel. After NOC equalised the diesel and kerosene prices , the sale of kerosene dropped drastically.

In early winter (Mangsir) last year, the sale of kerosene was 13,668 kilolitres (kl) and a year before that was 18,167 kl, However, this winter saw a whopping fall in the sales - just 5,128 kl.

“The almost 62 per cent drop in sales is really astounding,” said NOC spokesperson Mukund Dhungel. Due to the huge difference in figures, NOC also has no accurate estimate of the real demand of kerosene, he added.

“Petroleum dealers are aware of the adulteration,” a petrol pump owner said while admitting some ‘unscrupulous traders’ were making huge money.

According to him, normally turpentine - a liquid chemical used in painting - is mixed with petrol while earlier kerosene - then a cheaper fuel - used to be mixed with petrol and diesel.

“Earlier, traders used to request NOC to supply more kerosene but now the demand has dramatically dropped after the price of kerosene and diesel became equal,” said an NOC official.

The government has banned turpentine but it is still found in abundance in petrol. However, the equal pricing of kerosene and diesel has made it difficult for traders to adulterate petrol. Some petrol pumps still sell turpentine-mixed petrol to make big money, said the pump owner on condition of anonymity.

“Nepal Oil Corporation has taken global cues and slashed fuel prices thrice in succession. The price of diesel and kerosene was equalised on October 25 to control adulteration and NOC’s drive in this regard has been successful,” spokesperson Dhungel said.