Nepal finally does it: China formally requested to fill in the petroleum gap


A day after its foreign minister returned from New Delhi, a fuel-starved Nepal has finally written to the Chinese government to supply petroleum products.

During his visit to the Indian capital, Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa had failed to obtain a clear answer on whether or not India was going to lift the ‘unofficial blockade’ on Nepal. The ruling Communist Party of Nepal (UML) held an internal meeting on the fuel shortage when Mr Thapa was still in New Delhi which indicated the Nepalese regime was not confident that the Indian blockade was going to end anytime soon. Hence, it had to promptly secure an alternative fuel source.

According to Annapurna Post, the Nepalese government decided to formally request the communist giant as the ongoing blockade at various Indo-Nepal border points showed signs of not ending immediately.

Citing its source within the Nepalese foreign ministry, the vernacular daily said that the government has written to the Kathmandu-based Chinese mission to arrange supply of petroleum products via land route. The decision was reportedly taken after senior officials of three different ministries (foreign, commerce and finance) held a meeting to brainstorm the crisis.

A senior official of the state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation, on the other hand, has advised the commerce ministry to enter into a petroleum pipeline agreement with People’s Republic of China so that petroleum products could flow into the landlocked country without any hindrance.

“Indian Oil Corporation has established monopoly in Nepal. We cannot say that India will not repeat the similar blockade in the future. Therefore, we asked the  government to enter into a petroleum pipeline agreement with China,” the NOC official was quoted as saying.

China has proactively expressed its willingness to help, on several occasions, should the Nepalese government request supply of petroleum products from the southern neighbour.

The only challenge now is the not-so-reliable condition of the entry points along the Nepal-China border.

In the mean time, the Indian ambassador to Nepal told journalists in Kathmandu today that his country will not send freight through Birgunj, one of the busiest border points between the two South Asian nations. He further clarified that India has no plan to divert the held-up trucks and bring them through other customs points.

Responding to media’s questions on the issue, ambassador Ranjit Rae said that Nepal was a sovereign nation and therefore could bring petroleum from whichever nation it chose. However, he warned that there would be huge transportation cost if Nepal decided to do so.

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