• NOC to hire 50 more gas tankers to boost imports

    Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has decided to hire another 50 tankers from two Indian companies to transport liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in a bid to boost imports. Mukunda Ghimire, spokesperson for NOC, said that the board had okayed the temporary measure. He added that two Delhi-based transport companies would be supplying the bullet tankers for this month. NOC has arranged to hire 35 tankers from Ram Batra’s company and 15 from Satish Sharma’s company.

    Petrol and diesel supplies have improved after the end of the embargo, but cooking gas shortages persist in the market. Ghimire said that NOC moved to hire the extra tankers after its sole supplier Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) agreed to increase LPG supplies to Nepal. NOC had recently requested the Indian government through the Nepal Embassy in New Delhi to increase the monthly consignment of LPG to 40,000 tons from 23,000 tons. “After receiving the Indian government’s assurance, we acted to hire additional bullet tankers,” said Ghimire.

    According to NOC, 523 bullet tankers belonging to seven Indian shipping companies have been transporting LPG from IOC’s depots in Barauni, Haldia and Mathura to Nepal. Ghimire said that more than 10 percent of these tankers were out of service. It takes around 10 days for a bullet tanker to transport LPG from the depot in India to Nepal. “The length of the route is also one of the factors behind the short supply of LPG in Nepal whenever there is a crisis.”

    Meanwhile, NOC has also permitted Nepali companies to operate LPG bullet tankers, breaking the monopoly of Indian companies. “However, due to the slow progress of the plan, we have decided to hire Indian companies to supply tankers as a temporary measure,” said Ghimire. Last month, the state-owned oil monopoly had given the go-ahead to Nepali LPG bottlers to acquire 450 bullet tankers. “However, they have been saying that it will take at least eight to nine months to get them,” Ghimire said. There are 55 LPG bottling plants in the country, and there are more than 5 million gas cylinders in circulation. 

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