Nepal Oil Corporation has stepped up to construct a fuel storage plant in Surkhet, giving momentum to its plan to a construct storage holding 90 days worth of fuel in all seven provinces.
According to the state-owned oil monopoly, it has forwarded the process to lease the land for the purpose in Surkhet, the headquarters of Karnali Province. Surendra Kumar Paudel, managing director of Nepal Oil Corporation, said they had targeted to lease 250 ropanies from Nepal Trust to stock petrol and diesel sufficient to meet the demands of the region for three months.
Paudel said they had received approval from the corporation board to lease the land. “We have sent related documents to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies seeking the go ahead from the line ministry,” said Paudel.
Following the obstruction in petroleum supply during a four and a half months long Indian blockade in 2015, the government had announced it would expand the country’s fuel storage capacity so as to meet the domestic demand for at least three months.
The corporation had begun the land acquisition process for the project and expressed its commitment to complete the project by 2020.
However, the project came to a complete halt when the then managing director of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka was found guilty of financial irregularities while carrying out the land acquisition process for the project.
After finding him guilty, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on January 7 filed a corruption case at the Special Court against Khadka on the charge of amassing property worth Rs186.6 million illegally.
Khadka was found guilty of colluding with property brokers to purchase land for the corporation in Jhapa, Sarlahi, Chitwan and Rupandehi districts at inflated prices, nearly three to four times above the prevailing rates.
Paudel said they have plans to take forward the oil storage projects in other provinces as well. “We have started the pre-feasibility studies for the purpose.”
Currently, the demand for petrol in Karnali Province stands at 30-40 kilolitres (kl) daily. Similarly, around 100 kl of diesel is being sold in the region on a daily basis.
Birendra Kumar Goit, spokesperson of Nepal Oil Corporation, said the enterprise supplies the required fuel to the entire region from its depot in Nepalgunj. According to him, the Surkhet based depot has a maximum capacity to stock 70 kl of aviation fuel while petrol and diesel are being supplied from Nepalgunj.
According to the corporation, the proposed site of the oil storage in Surkhet will be located 13 km from the city area. “With the reason, the location is comparatively safe if any unusual circumstances take place in the storage plant after its construction,” said Goit.
Currently only 71,569 kilolitres petrol, diesel and aviation fuel is stored in the country. There is no provision for the storage of kerosene and cooking gas on a large scale.
According to the corporation, with their present storage facilities, they can store enough petrol to meet the country’s demand for a week and 10 days for aviation fuel and diesel.
The Kathmandu Post