Kathmandu, January 23
In the past years, the onset of winter used to herald beginning of extended load-shedding hours and shortage of liquefied petroleum gas. But the situation has changed this winter, thanks to regular power supply.
According to LPG dealers, the demand for cooking gas has come down by almost 25 per cent this winter (from mid-November to mid-February) compared to previous winters, when LPG consumption used to shoot up by almost 20 per cent compared to the normal times.
“Because of adequate supply of electricity, LPG was not consumed as alternative source of energy this winter, which has resulted in surplus supply of cooking gas,” said Gyaneshwor Aryal, president of Gas Dealers Federation of Nepal, adding that gas dealers and bottlers are finding it difficult to clear their LPG stock.
According to Nepal Oil Corporation, the average demand of LPG during winter exceeds 30,000 metric tonnes per month against average monthly demand of 25,000 metric tonnes during normal times.
According to NOC officials, artificial shortage created by LPG bottlers and dealers to make a quick buck used to make the situation worse in the past years. However, adequate supply of electricity this winter has closed the window of opportunity for black marketeers to create artificial shortage, they claim.
However, Aryal refuted the claim, saying that market demand of LPG used to exceed 35,000 metric tonnes during winter in the previous years. According to him, a huge portion of imported LPG used to be consumed for purposes other than cooking — gas geysers and heaters — in the winter months in past years.
“Besides the uninterrupted electricity supply, LPG import was also smooth this winter,” added Aryal, explaining the reason for surplus supply of cooking gas in the market.
Bottlers also believe that smooth electricity supply played a key role in ensuring ample supply of LPG this winter.
“With the availability of electricity, people switched to electricity even for cooking,” Shiva Ghimire, president of Nepal LP Gas Industry Association, said. On the other hand, NOC officials attribute the smooth supply to the joint efforts of NOC and Indian Oil Corporation to ensure uninterrupted supply of cooking gas this year.
“While we allow bottlers to import cooking gas as per their demand, the IOC has also supported us by providing adequate supply. This is the primary cause for smooth supply of cooking gas in the market this year,” said Bhanubhakta Khanal, spokesperson for NOC.
NOC statistics show that Nepal imported 30,000 metric tonnes of LPG in December and the corporation plans to import the same amount of LPG in January.
A version of this article appears in print on January 24, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.