Wednesday, October 7, 2015

NOC calls bids from international fuel suppliers

After India refused to send the petroleum products to Nepal – since the last two weeks – Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has called global tender to supply fuel to Nepal.
A board meeting of NOC today evening decided to issue a public notice tomorrow calling for global bids from fuel suppliers for 15 days, a source at the state oil monopoly said requesting anonymity.
It is the first time in history that NOC has called global bids from international fuel companies for petroleum supply.
Despite four decades of commercial association and agreement with the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) – the sole petroleum supplier to the NOC – the latter has failed to supply fuel to Nepal citing security reasons – due to protests in the Tarai-Madhesh – since the past two weeks. While responding to the NOC official's request, the IOC officials said that they have been told not to supply petroleum products to Nepal, though India claims to have not been imposed blockade on Nepal.
IOC has slashed the fuel supply to Nepal by over 90 per cent compared to normal times though NOC has not violated the contract with IOC. NOC and IOC had renewed agreement in 2012. It is valid till 2017. According to the commercial agreement between NOC and IOC, the latter will supply as much as petroleum products NOC needs.
Following the unofficial India-imposed economic blockade, the IOC has refused to supply fuel – including cooking gas – to Nepali tankers and bullets reached in the Indian depots.
Likewise, the Indian customs officials have also been preventing loaded fuel tankers from entering Nepal.
Reeling under acute shortage of petroleum products – after IOC's failure in maintaining smooth supply – NOC has been left with no option other than to call global bids. After the IOC's reluctance to supply fuel that has not only paralysed normal life but has also crippled the economy, the NOC has no option to call global tender, the official said, adding that the NOC is expected to select the fuel supplier to Nepal through a competitive bidding process."
An unofficial blockade by India restricting the flow of oil tankers and trucks into the country has also caused disruptions in transportation and made schools to shut down. Hospitals are also running low on medicine. There could soon be humanitarian crisis, if India does not lift its embargo.
The cabinet had this week directed, the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, to explore the alternative, in case the IOC does not cooperate. The cabinet had asked the ministry to ease the supply of petroleum products – including aviation fuel, petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG (cooking gas) for 15 days – as a temporary measure. However, it is high time, Nepal should think of long-term option as the political arm twisting of India through IOC has made the Nepalis suffer a lot. NOC took long time to come to conclusion and look for alternative also due to non-cooperation of the ministry that has never thought of easing supply during the crisis in the past too.
The state-owned oil monopoly has asked the interested bidders to submit their Expression of Interest (EoI) within three days. "NOC wants 200 kilolitre of diesel, 100 kilolitre of petrol, 200 kilolitre of ATF, 200 kilolitre of kerosene and 100 metric tonnes of LPG immediately for 15 days either through land or air route," the bid read.
Earlier this week, NOC had even sent a letter to IOC requesting immediate resumption of regular supply. But the IOC did not heed NOC's request forcing the latter to call for gloal tender to maintain fuel supply.

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