Tall order for NOC to sustain ATF demand

Kathmandu, November 21

The increased number of flights has the state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) reeling under immense pressure to sustain the demand for aviation turbine fuel (ATF).

NOC’s Acting Deputy Managing Director Sushil Bhattarai said that ATF demand has increased by more than 25 per cent across the country in recent months and this has posed a big challenge for NOC to cater to the ATF demand with its limited storage.

“The demand for ATF at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in recent months has increased by almost 200,000 litres per day to 700,000 litres,” said Bhattarai, adding that the ATF storage facility at TIA, however, has remained constant at 700 kilolitres.

According to him, the ATF demand across the country has also more than doubled in the past few months. Statistics maintained by NOC show that average demand for ATF in other parts of the country, except Kathmandu, has increased to almost 15,000 litres per day against the average demand of 5,000 to 6,000 litres per day last year.

NOC has cited the surging demand of ATF to increasing number of domestic and international flights.

“While domestic airline operators had been operating flights until 6:00pm in the past years and international airlines until 10:00pm, airlines have been scheduling flights for extended period, which has resulted in increase in demand of ATF,” informed Bhattarai.

There are 34 international airline companies operating up to 106 daily flights to Kathmandu, according to TIA authorities.

As NOC has not been able to increase ATF storage facility, the current storage capacity caters to the ATF demand only for three to four days, Bhattarai informed. “All hell will break loose if we face even a single day of ATF supply disruption from India.”

Moreover, increased domestic flights by airline companies targeting the movement of people for the upcoming elections has also added to the woes of the corporation, according to NOC officials.

NOC officials also expressed concerns about additional pressure to meet ATF demand if the government’s plan to operate TIA round-the-clock materialises.

However, Sanjeev Kumar Gautam, director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said that even though the earlier governments had floated the idea of operating the TIA 24 hours a day, it is unlikely that the plan will materialise any time soon due to lack of resources.

Informing that the only way to address the increasing ATF demand in the country is by increasing storage capacity for ATF, Bhattarai said that the government and stakeholders of the country’s petroleum industry should focus on expanding storage capacity of ATF as soon as possible.

NOC has been planning to set up bulk ATF storage facility in Chitwan targeting the increasing demand of ATF at TIA.