It is good news that the much-awaited cross-border petroleum pipeline between Nepal and India is coming into operation by mid-August this year. The 69.5-km priority project is the first cross-border pipeline of its kind in South Asia. About 32-km pipeline falls in India and the remaining 27.5-km is Nepal. The pipeline has been laid down by the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The Government of Nepal invested Rs. 750 million while the Government of India contributed about IRs. 2 billion. An agreement regarding the pipeline project was signed between the two friendly neighbours on August 24, 2015. During his visit to India, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi had jointly laid the foundation stone for the Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline project at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
According to a news report published in this daily, pipeline testing has been taking place on a daily basis as part of preparation for bringing the vial project into operation. The NOC has conducted tests from Barauni of India, through Patna and Motihari to Amalekhgunj in Nepal. Such tests have become helpful for cleaning the pipelines. The NOC will carry out the final test of the pipeline after completing the hydro testing. It has also begun testing the storage after installing the software and flow metre. In the first phase, the NOC aims to import diesel through the pipelines. The pipeline project also includes re-engineering of the NOC’s Amlekhgunj depot. Under the project, two tanks have also been built at the Amalekhgunj depot for the storage of the petroleum products. It is also worth mentioning that the pipeline project is environment-friendly and meets all the international standard safety features.
The petroleum pipeline project is expected to be very beneficial for Nepal. The country will save as much as Rs. 2 billion annually following the export of the petroleum products through the pipeline. Of the total saving, the country will save about Rs. 700 million annually in transporting fuels from Raxaul to Amlekhgunj alone. The pipeline will also reduce travel time for tankers transporting fuels to different parts of the country from Amlekhgunj. Many cases related to pilferage of fuels have often been reported. Tanker operators and drivers have been blamed for pilfering fuels on the way. With the supply of fuels through the pipeline, this problem is likely to be controlled, to a great extent. Besides, since no fuel tankers are required to transport fuels across the border, traffic congestion at the Raxaul-Birgunj customs point will be eased.
Traders have been forced to waste much time while importing goods from India due to heavy traffic congestion. Consumers in Nepal have time and again faced a scarcity of fuels due to strikes called by tanker owners and drivers. Thus, the pipeline project will provide a great respite to the consumers. The IOC depot based in Raxaul is very important as it alone caters to 60 per cent of the petroleum products supplied to Nepal. The pipeline project is undoubtedly a testimony of the consolidation of the bilateral relations between Nepal and India.