China ready to provide fuel

NOC to reroute fuel tankers and LPG bullets stranded at Birgunj-Raxaul customs point

Kathmandu, October 27

China is ready to offer necessary assistance to fuel-strapped Nepal, the spokesperson of China’s Foreign Ministry said.

“The Chinese side is ready to offer necessary assistance at the request of the Nepali government as a friendly neighbour to relieve the shortage of fuel supply,” Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference in Beijing yesterday.

Responding to a query, she further said that the Chinese and Nepali sides are in close communication in this regard.

Her statement has come at a time when an official team from Nepal has flown to Beijing and started talks regarding prospects of importing fuel from the northern neighbour.

An official team-led by Ambassador of Nepal to China, Mahesh Maskey reached Beijing earlier today to hold dialogue concerning the import of petroleum products from China.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tara Prasad Pokhrel expected a deal on the import of fuels from China that could address the scarcity of petroleum products in the country, and avert an imminent humanitarian crisis owing to the crunch.

Meanwhile, the Nepali delegation has started talks with the concerned Chinese authorities on the alternatives and solutions to the present fuel crisis, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Pokhrel added. The team has been mandated to discuss the means and mode of fuel import, including prices, with the Chinese side.

The team had decided to hold dialogue with China after the northern neighbour announced that it would grant about 1.3 million litres of petroleum to Nepal.

Nepal is currently reeling under acute shortage of petroleum products owing to the Madhes-based parties, which have intensified their agitation in the wake of the promulgation of the new constitution on September 20. These parties have obstructed the Nepal-India border.

“We hope a deal will be sealed tomorrow,” one official said.

The Himalayan Times’ repeated attempts to contact Ambassador to China Maskay about the ongoing talks couldn’t succeed.

Maskay’s delegation includes Shambhu Ghimire, joint secretary at Ministry of Commerce and Supplies; Madhav Kumar Marasini, joint secretary at Ministry of Finance; Jhabindra Aryal, joint secretary at Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Gopal Bahadur Khada, executive director of Nepal Oil Corporation; Sushil Bhattarai, director of NOC; and Bishwa Babu Pudasaini, director general of Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology.

Meanwhile, Nepal Oil Corporation has initiated the process of re-routing numerous liquefied petroleum gas bullets and fuel tankers stranded at the Raxaul-Birgunj border point due to the protest of Tarai-based parties through the Jogbani-Biratnagar customs point.

NOC has sent its officials to the Central Board of Excise and Customs, New Delhi, to bring permit to re-route the tankers and bullets from Raxaul to Kakadbhitta via Siliguri and to Biratnagar via Jogbani, according to Bhanubhakta Dhakal, central region chief of NOC.

NOC has said that fuel tankers sent from Nepal received loading like in normal times today from Indian Oil Corporation’s Barauni depot. These tankers will enter Nepal via Siliguri and some have been diverted to Sunauli (Bhairahawa).

The Indian government had pledged to send vehicles with fuel, essential commodities and industrial raw materials through routes that were nor obstructed by protesters in Nepal during the visit of Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa last week.

NOC started the process of re-routing fuel tankers immediately after the Dashain festival. NOC officials have said fuel tankers and gas bullets will be diverted to other routes from Raxaul if they receive permission from the Central Board of Excise and Customs of the government of India.