But dealers assure this won’t cause shortage in the market

LPG: Although the expired Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders sent for statutory testing have not arrived, dealers in Phuentsholing assured that there would not be any shortage of LPG cylinders in the country.

The cylinders were sent to North Bengal Cylinders (NBC) plant at Fatakupur, Siliguri, India.

Last month, the department of trade had informed the Indian Oil Corporation Limited to not entertain refilling of expired gas cylinders from today.

Druk Petroleum Corporation Limited (DPCL) has sent around 2,300 cylinders out of which 1,600 have arrived refilled.

Bhutan Oil Distributor (BOD) has sent around 1,100 expired cylinders, and Damchen Petroleum Distributor (DPD) 600 cylinders, but the dealers are yet to receive their tested cylinders back refilled.

The dealers said, the tested and repaired cylinders would reach in the next two days.

DPCL’s deputy general manager Pema Wangdi said there would not be any shortage.

“While we send the expired cylinders for testing, the ones renewed will also arrive simultaneously,” he said.

However, Pema Wangdi said it would take them at least six months to complete re-qualifying all the expired cylinders. “Those cylinders hoarded will take time to reappear in the depots,” he said.

Dealers also have also started stacking the expired cylinders they receive from their clients. The trade department also has allowed the sale of expired cylinders to refrain backlogs.

Trade department’s officiating director Dophu Tshering said the dealers could sell those expired cylinders until June 30, 2015.

“However, IOC will not refill any expired cylinders henceforth,” the director said. “It has been made very clear.”

Dophu Tshering also said the public must surrender the expired cylinders that are currently in use as soon as possible for their own safety. The department will also soon organise a workshop to educate people on LPG safety use, together with the IOC.

Meanwhile, BOD is the top distributor with more than 150,000 cylinders in the market. It was reported by the Royal Audit Authority, that BOD has about 70,000 expired cylinders still circulated in the market.

DPCL has around 16,000 cylinders in the market, while Damchen records of having 8,400 LPG cylinders.

BOD has ordered the NBC counterpart for 60,000 cylinders to re-qualify. DPCL and Damchen have ordered for 20,000 and 5,000 cylinders respectively.

Dealers usually buy new cylinders from Orissa and Kolkata in India. The price of a new LPG cylinder goes up to Nu 1,400 including sales tax and transportation costs.

The cost of renewing an expired cylinder, dealers said would come to about Nu 300 including all other expenses. A new cylinder will have to get tested in 10 years and it could be used for another five years.

Bhutan is allowed to import 700 metric tons of subsidised LPG a month from India. BOD has a total quota of 49,000 cylinders with 26,900 distributed in the western region. Druk has an overall quota of more than 6,000 cylinders, while Damchen’s quota remains at 2,400 cylinders.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing