Trying to expand energy diplomacy in its neighbourhood, India is planning to set up LPG storage and LNG import facilities in Myanmar. Unfortunately, India has no such plans for Bhutan.
Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) in Assam is exploring supply of diesel to Myanmar and plans to build fuel storage and distribution sector in that country.
The Indian Oil Corporation is setting up LPG storage facilities and Petronet LNG is trying to setup an LNG terminal. Similarly, India is also working with Bangladesh in interconnecting gas grids and supplying diesel through pipelines.
At present, India supplies diesel through rail rake from Siliguri to Parbatipur in Bangladesh and planning a 130-km long product pipeline for uninterrupted supply.
Surprisingly, India seems to have no plans of energy diplomacy with Bhutan. People in Bhutan have been suffering because of irregular supply of LPG from India.
Sources in Gelephu told Northeast Now that people waiting in long queues in front of the Bhutan Oil Distributors’ LPG outlet has become a common sight for the last few weeks.
The central LPG outlet in Gelephu stopped receiving LPG cylinders since February, the sources said. As a result, people in Sarpang, Tsirang, Dagana, Zhemgang, Bumthang and Trongsa are now suffering.
India’s petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan told recently that Assam would soon become a major centre of world trading in the export of petroleum products to the neighbours. But, Pradhan did not have any announcements for Bhutan.
According to reports, Bhutan imported only 242.99MT non-subsidised LPG in 2018, worth Nu 6.05 million against the quota to import 1000MT a month from the Indian Oil Corporation.
But, Bhutanese nationals have not taken non-subsidised LPG despite a shortage of subsidised cooking gas across the country. People are reluctant to buy non-subsidised gas because of the price difference.
Why is India not helping Bhutan to set up LPG storage facilities and bail out the common people from the crisis? Since Bhutan has strict rules against cutting of firewood, India should have extended its helping hands to help people of the Himalayan Kingdom.
In neighbouring Nepal, India supplies all of its petroleum product requirements through trucks. A pipeline for supply of petroleum products is under construction, which will ensure uninterrupted supply.
If India can extend so much help to Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar in hydro-carbon sector, why is it so reluctant to expand energy diplomacy with Bhutan?