“Oil Explodes Himalayan Barrier Myth” Ambassador Dr. Mahesh Maskey

Nepalese ambassador to China Dr. Mahesh Maskey was actively involved in making the deal between Petro-China and Nepal Oil Corporation Agreement happen. Ambassador Dr. Maskey, who came to Kerung to take part in the petroleum products handover ceremony

Nov. 7, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.09, No-9, November 6, 2015 (Kartik 20, 2072)

How do you feel when the Nepalese tankers are carrying Petro Products from China?

This ends the speculations over whether Nepal can import petroleum products from China or not. Given the difficult terrain, many people are commenting that bringing petrol from China is impossible geographically. After the petrol reaches Kathmandu and gets distributed to the public, the myth that the mountains are barriers to the trade between Nepal and China will be exploded. In this sense, this is a major breakthrough in the history of modern Nepal.

As you have played a key role in signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Petro to import petroleum products from China, how do you describe the recently signed MoU?

It is a historic agreement for Nepal to import Petroleum Product from China. For almost four decades, Indian Oil Corporation has been the sole supplier of the Petroleum Products. According to the MoU, Nepal Oil Corporation can import one third of Petroleum Products it needs from China.

How easy is it for Nepal to import Petroleum Products from China?

Given the present road conditions up to Kerung, I found that China can supply petroleum products smoothly to Nepal. The petroleum products have already reached up to Lhasa and Chinese railway is now fetching petroleum products up to Xigatse depot. As the road distance between Xigatse and Kerung is just 560 kilometers, with widened blacktopped road, Petro-China can easily supply petroleum products to Nepal. I travelled through road along with other delegation members from Xigatse. Since Chinese are extending the Tibet Railway up to Kerung by 2020, Nepal will have another road to link outside world.

Business groups have been saying that the road to Kodari is much wider and shorter than Kerung. Why did you choose a bit longer and difficult Syaphrubeshi-Kerung Road?

As the recent earthquake has badly damaged some portion of the highway in the Chinese side from Kodari highway, China has decided to send the materials from Kerung. We have already requested the Chinese government to open Tatopani-Kodari section to resume the bilateral trade. If we want to do a long term business, Nepal needs to work to widen the current Kerung-Trishuli Road. As Nepal government has already agreed to have a long-term agreement with China-Petro, this road will also be widened in the coming years.

When will Kodari road resume for trade?

Chinese authorities have assured us that they will resume the trade soon from Kodari also. As the earthquake has devastated large portions of roads and infrastructure in the Chinese side of Kodari, Chinese authorities are working to normalize the roads and other infrastructures.

How is Nepal working to increase trade volume with China?

The government will accelerate the construction of other roads in far-west and eastern parts of regions linking China. As the MoU was signed keeping in mind the long term interest of Nepal, it is the sole responsibility of government of Nepal to expand the roads and allocate adequate budgets.

What is the state of Nepal-China relations?

China attaches a great importance to the relations with Nepal. Sending 1000 kiloliter of Petrol, China has demonstrated good gesture towards Nepal and Nepalese people. China has been a good neighbor of Nepal supporting Nepal’s sovereignty and independence. China never interfered in the internal politics of Nepal. China has welcomed Nepal’s new constitution without any reservation. This shows that a friend in need is a friend indeed.

In the past, Nepal’s ruling parties forgot China once they restored normal relations with the southern neighbor. How do you say that Nepalese government will fully implement the MoU signed with Petro-China?

I am confident that Nepalese government will now implement the MoU. Within a week, a high level delegation from Petro-China is visiting Nepal to discuss on quantity of Petroleum products required by Nepal. After this meeting, everything will be finalized. Nepal needs to make alternative arrangements for China given Nepal’s geographical vulnerability. If there is a major disaster like landslides or floods and roads to India get disrupted, Chinese supply will be maintained to meet our needs.

Given the present hassles created in the Nepalese side in allowing the Petrol import, how hopeful are you about the execution of MoU?

Every country looks for alternative suppliers of energy. Nepal is no exception. Of course, Nepalese Customs Office has created some complications in the process of import. This has already been settled now. After carrying all the 1000 kiloliters of gifted Petrol, NOC will start commercial business with Petro-China. Nepal will import LPG, Diesel, Petrol and ATF.

Can this MoU replace the one with Indian Oil?

As per the MoU, Nepal will import one third of products from Petro-China. NOC will continue to import the remaining fuel from its traditional route.



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