KATHMANDU, March 7: Though the Nepal Oil Corporation is importing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in normal fashion, Kathmandu Valley has started to see a distribution crisis as consumers are panicking and rushing to buy the cooking gas cylinders.
With the rush to buy the fuel cylinders, the Valley market has started to witness a shortage of the vital consumer item.
Amid fears of a possible outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection in Nepal, people have started to stock up on the cooking gas, creating a shortage in the market.
Meanwhile, Nepal Oil Corporation has said that the import of LPG is at normal level. “Due to the fear of cornoavirus, consumers are panicking although the supply is normal,” said Susheel Bhattarai, deputy managing director of NOC.
Currently, the state-owned LPG monopoly is importing 41,000 metric tons of the cooking gas per month from India. “The supply is normal. As consumers are panicking, the demand and supply balance has broken down. As a result, people are facing a shortage of the LPG cylinders,” said Bhattarai, urging the public not to panic as there will be no shortage.
Bhattarai also said that LPG bottlers and dealers should act more responsibly in a situation like this. “They should not hide any cylinders for undue benefit. We [NOC] have been supplying LPG to the bottlers in normal fashion,” he said.
Usually, the demand for LPG cylinders stands at around 99,000 units per day. But in the last few days, the demand has surged by almost 10 percent.
As the demand has surged, NOC is preparing to increase the import of LPG. “NOC is preparing to import around 45,000 metric tons of LPG for the next month,” Bhattarai said, adding that they have already asked Indian Oil Corporation – the sole supplier of petroleum products to Nepal – to increase the supply of LPG.
However, Bhattarai also said that increasing the import could again upset the demand-supply balance. “Usually, the demand is high during winter. As summer is about to start, there could be an excess supply after increasing the import from India,” he said adding that the authorities have been monitoring the market to calm the situation.