Kathmandu, October 28
Ending four decades of Nepal’s dependence on India for gasoline supply, Nepal and China today sealed a framework deal to import petroleum products from the northern neighbour.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and China National United Oil Corporation (PetroChina), a state owned company, regarding supply of petroleum products from China to Nepal, in Beijing, today.
“It’s a framework agreement for import of petroleum products from China,” Joint Secretary Madhu Marasini at the Ministry of Finance, a member of the Nepali delegation, told The Himalayan Times over phone from Beijing.
This agreement has paved the way for commercial import of petroleum products to Nepal, he added. “But we need to finalise the pricing by considering many factors.”
Ambassador of Nepal to China, Mahesh Maskey, who led an 11-member Nepali delegation to strike the deal with Chinese authorities, said that a formal door has been opened to import at least one-third of the fuels required by the country from China.
Managing Director of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka and PetroChina’s Vice President Zhang Tong signed the agreement, according to a statement issued by the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing.
Officials said that the two sides are yet to finalise pricing details and timeline for the supply of fuels to be brought from China. The Chinese side has told the Nepali delegation that they will try to fix a price close to the current market rate in Nepal despite the geographical difficulties of ferrying it via the Tibet route and also the fact that the standard of fuel will be of higher quality than the fuel provided by India.
It is learnt that efforts are under way to make it possible to buy Chinese fuels within the next three to four weeks, by completing all procedures.
A separate contract was also signed between Nepal and China in Beijing today for the speedy delivery of 1,000 metric tonnes petroleum grant, which China has provided to Nepal as relief from the current shortage, according to the embassy. The grant will be ferried to Nepal via the Kyirong border point within a week, an official said.
According to the Nepal embassy in Beijing, the Nepali delegation held talks with high level officials of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce to finalise the MoU and other related issues of bilateral cooperation, earlier today.
Nepal is currently reeling under acute shortage of petroleum products after Madhes-based parties intensified their agitation in the wake of the promulgation of the new constitution on September 20 and obstructed the Nepal-India border.
Yesterday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had expressed Beijing’s readiness to offer necessary assistance to fuel-strapped Nepal.
IOC refills Nepal’s tankers
KATHMANDU: Fuel tankers sent from Nepal to India to bring petroleum products were refilled as during normal times on Wednesday.
Altogether 18 out of 22 fuel tankers were refilled in Barauni depot of Indian Oil Corporation, the same depot had refilled 35 tankers on Tuesday, according to Bhanubhakta Dhakal, NOC central region chief.
Due to protests in Birgunj, IOC has been providing fuel from Barauni depot instead of Raxaul depot.
Likewise, Central Board of Excise and Customs of India permitted NOC to re-route fuel tankers and liquefied petroleum gas bullets stranded at Raxaul after Tarai-based parties staged a sit-in at the no man’s land near Birgunj border.
Dhakal said around 250 LPG bullets and 150 fuel tankers are stranded at the Indian frontier in Raxaul.
Those tankers and LPG bullets will be sent to Barauni and brought to Nepal through Biratnagar via Jogbani.
A version of this article appears in print on October 29, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.