Unperturbed by Nepal’s fuel pact with China, India continues to supply at least a third of the Himalayan nation’s daily fuel demand through alternative routes after the main transit point on Nepal-Bihar border was blocked by protesters.
State-owned Indian Oil Corp is using alternative entry points to Nepal from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to reach 32-35% of Nepal’s daily requirement of 6,612 kilolitres of petrol, diesel, kerosene, ATF and LPG, IOC chairman B Ashok said in New Delhi.
“We are continuing to supply fuel to Nepal. Obviously there are some difficulties, not because of us but because of political protests on their side which has led to choking of the Raxaul-Birgunj border crossing (Indo-Nepal),” he said.
Trucks carrying fuel are being sent from Baitalpur near Gorakhpur, Gonda and Banthra in Uttar Pradesh, as well as Siliguri in West Bengal.
IOC supplied close to 80% of the 1.1 million tonnes of fuel to Nepal through the Raxual border. But this main border crossing between Nepal and India has been closed due to weeks of violent protests by ethnic Madhesis against the newly adopted Nepalese Constitution.
Truck tankers that carry fuel to Nepal are owned by the national oil company of the Himalayan nation and they have not been able to cross border to reach IOC fueling depots.
“Ultimately, trucks will have to reach us. The protests have meant that their (Nepali) trucks are not able to reach our depots. We are ready to supply any quantity of fuel but we do not own the trucks. Their trucks have to reach us. When they do, we immediately fill them and they transport it back,” he said.
Last week, Nepal, which had to ration fuel supplies due to shortage created because of protests, signed an agreement with China to import gasoline (petrol), diesel and cooking gas (LPG).
Nepal Oil Corp and National United Oil Corp (PetroChina) signed a MoU for the fuel supply.
But bringing-in fuel from China is a logistical challenge as the border runs along the world’s highest mountains and the two crossings were damaged by the earthquake in April. Only one was reopened this month.
China was to supply 1,000 tonnes of fuel to Nepal as part of the pact but only a third of it reached the country.
Four tankers could transport the fuel on Monday as the road to Kerung Pass along the Nepal-Tibet border was obstructed following snowfall.
Asked about threat from Chinese supplies, Ashok said India has had a very long relationship with Nepal. “We believe we would continue to be a good partner. They know our strength and know that we have been a reliable supplier to them.”
Nepal imported about 1.37 billion litres of fuel last year from IOC for $1.05 billion. In August, IOC also agreed to build a 41-kilometre pipeline that would obliterate the need for truck movement through Raxual.