Nepal Oil Corporation boosts gas imports to meet demand surge

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - The state-owned company is importing 11,000 tonnes of cooking gas on top of the regular shipment for this month, officials said.

 Kathmandu residents say they are having a hard time finding cooking gas in the market despite government claims that there is enough to go around.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, people have been stocking up on cooking gas in case of supply disruptions due to the Covid-19 outbreak, resulting in stores being sold out of cylinders.

Officials said that Nepal Oil Corporation was in the process of importing 11,000 tonnes of cooking gas on top of the regular shipment for this month.

Surendra Poudel, general manager of Nepal Oil Corporation, said that a drastic increase in demand coinciding with a break in supply due to the Holi holidays had created problems for consumers. “But we have boosted imports, and the extra shipments will arrive within a few days,” he said.

Poudel added that the country's sole supplier, Indian Oil Corporation, had also given assurances that it would provide gas according to demand. A shipment of 300,000 cooking gas cylinders arrived in the Kathmandu Valley on Thursday and Friday which will help to fulfil current demand, he said.

Netra Prasad Subedi, director general of the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection Management, said that there was a buying rush at the depots of Nepal Gas, but gas cylinders of other brands were easily available.

Nepal Gas has a large customer base, so it could not provide deliveries due to the surge in demand, he said. Nepal Oil Corporation and the Commerce Department have asked the company to bring more bullets, and the extra inventory will ease the rush.

“We have not received any complaints about cooking gas of other companies,” he said. “The supply of cooking gas is increasing, and there is no sign of a drop in shipments.” India has not given any indication of stopping delivery of cooking gas to Nepal, he added.

Despite government announcements that market inspection would be made effective to prevent price gouging and artificial shortages, department data shows that it has conducted few checks.

According to officials, 210 gas bullets entered Nepal from the Birgunj border point and 19 bullets from the Nepalgunj customs point on Thursday and Friday. On Friday, 14 bullets arrived through Jogbani and 41 bullets through Belahiya. A bullet contains 18 tonnes of cooking gas, enough to fill 1,250 household cylinders.

Gokul Bhandari, executive director of Nepal Gas and president of the Nepal LP Gas Industry Association, said that gas deliveries from India were halted briefly due to the Holi festival, which created a scarcity in the market as people were buying more than their usual requirement.

“Gas shipments resumed on Friday, and we will be distributing 10,000 cylinders daily.” He added that he had received complaints of dealers increasing the price of cooking gas.

“We will cancel the dealership of any dealer selling gas at inflated prices,” he said. According to Bhandari, the country's daily requirement of cooking gas is 100,000 cylinders, but demand swelled in recent days over shortage concerns.

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