… even with increase in popularity of kerosene heaters

Fuel:  It has been more than a decade since use of bhukari (wood fed stove) was discouraged in Thimphu but demand for briquette has more or less remained same over the years.

Last year, 2015, Natural Resource Development Corporation’s briquette factory in Ramtokto, Thimphu sold 270.91 tonnes of briquette. There was a slight drop in supply last year than 2014 when 316.15 tonnes were sold. However, the demand for briquette was higher in 2013. From the total 404.34 tonnes produced 400.41 tonnes were sold. This was 56.16 tonnes more than the sale in 2012.

Cashier at the factory, Rinchen Zangmo said almost all the demand for briquette was from Thimphu town resident who had provision for fireplaces.  Majority of the buyers were people residing in government quarters that has designated fireplace.

Every winter, the Royal Bhutan Police and Royal Bhutan Army demand more than 1,000 kgs.

Demand for briquette surge between October and February, where at least 80 tonnes of briquette are sold. Besides private use, Dechentsemo Central School in Thinleygang, Punakha buys at least three tonnes every month. The school uses it for the school mess.

On the other hand, demand for kerosene used for heating purpose is also on the rise. As a result of excessive kerosene demand, fuel depots in Thimphu ran short of kerosene stock for almost a week last month.

Druk Petroleum Corporation limited officials earlier said at least 6,000 liters of kerosene are sold every day. To meet the increasing demand during winter months, 50,000 litres of kerosene is imported from Siliguri in India, which is 30,000 litres more than what is imported in other seasons, officials said.

According to Kuensel’s record, more than a decade ago, only about 2,000 litres of kerosene was sold everyday at the rate of Nu 9.92 a litre.

Along with increase in demand for kerosene, shopkeepers in Thimphu say there is equal demand for kerosene heaters. S P Enterprise at the Norzin Lam sells at least 90 kerosene heaters annually. A 5.7-liter kerosene heater costs about Nu 12,000 in Thimphu.

Dolma Enterprise, an electronic appliances outlet in the capital agrees that the demand for kerosene heaters has increased. Their analysis was that ever since kerosene heater captured the market, electric heaters are less preferred. However among all electric heaters, radiator and reflector that are made in China are bought more.

Dolma Entreprise sells about 45 electric heaters a month.

Meanwhile to meet yearly demand for briquette, NRDCL has set an annual production target of 350 tonnes, Rinchen Zangmo said.

“To meet the set target, we keep producing about 40-50 bags a day during off-season as well,” she said adding that the targets are comfortably achieved if the machine does not break down.

The machine was repaired last September after it was left unused for almost three months because spare parts were not avialable.

Nirmala Pokhrel