Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has planned to acquire 200-300 bullets to transport liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from India in a bid to ensure regular supplies of the essential fuel.
The state-owned oil monopoly said it had moved to buy the LPG tankers after private bottling companies said they would buy only up to 150 bullets. NOC said that depending on Indian bullets had led to serious problems on several occasions, particularly during the recent gas shortage in the country.
Last month, NOC had talked with private LPG bottlers to acquire the necessary bullets with their own resources. NOC Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka said that the corporation had been mulling maintaining its own fleet of bullets after the bottlers said they would not be able to buy the required number. According to him, only a few big bottlers had expressed interest in buying four-five bullets each.
Earlier, the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of the Legislature-Parliament had asked NOC to acquire LPG bullets. The committee’s secretary Sudarshan Khadka said they also held a meeting with NOC on Sunday regarding the issue.
NOC said it would ask the government to manage the necessary funds for the purchase. “We are now in the process of forwarding the proposal to the Finance Ministry,” Khadka said.
As per NOC, 523 bullets belonging to seven Indian shipping companies are being used to transport LPG from Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) depots in Barauni, Haldiya and Mathura to Nepal. These shipping companies have been taking home more than Rs3 billion in freight charges annually.
“If Nepali bullets had been used to import LPG, all that money would have been retained in the country.”
NOC has estimated the cost of a bullet at Rs7-10 million. Based on this estimate, the cost of 300 bullets would come to Rs3 billion at the most.
Apart from the savings on transportation costs, domestic companies would be able to regulate LPG supplies if they had their own bullets. Currently, Nepali LPG bottling companies have to wait for their turn to ship LPG through Indian transport companies. Sometimes, they are said to have to wait for days.
During the recent shortages too, many small companies were reported to have been unable to import LPG due to the non-availability of bullets with the Indian transporters. “Similarly, domestic LPG supplies will remain unaffected even when Indian transporters disrupt shipments,” said Khadka.
According to him, NOC has stepped up work to purchase the bullets as part of its long-term vision to prevent possible shortages of cooking gas.
Meanwhile, NOC said that IOC had agreed to provide technical support to construct an LPG storage tank in Mahendranagar of Janakpur. NOC has been planning to set up the first LPG storage tank in the area. The proposed storage tank will be able to hold 10,000 tonnes of cooking gas.