Thinley Namgay  

Fuel prices rose for the second time in as many months taking the price of petrol to Nu 61.77 a litre and diesel price to Nu 59.69 a litre.

Petrol price jumped by Nu 1.84 and diesel by Nu 1.24 in mid-January.  It is also the second time the prices have increased during the second nationwide lockdown.

The price of petrol at Bhutan Oil Distributor (BOD) in Motithang is Nu 61.77 a litre since January 16, an increase from Nu 59.93. Similarly, the price of diesel is now Nu 59.69 a litre, an increase from Nu 58.45.

BOD official at Motithang, Sunil Pradhan, said  the price fluctuation happens every after 15 days. “The fuel price depends based on the situation in India.”

“The price is almost similar in all the distribution centres as all are importing from India,” said Sunil Pradhan.

Fuel consumption has dropped drastically as vehicle movement was restricted for more than a month in Thimphu and at least two weeks in the dzongkhags.

According to Sunil Pradhan, around 70 vehicles used to fuel daily on normal days at Motithang, which has now dropped to 16.

Yogesh Chettri of Damchen Petroleum Distributors said, “We didn’t notice a major price hike since the changes were below Nu 2 per litre. Currently, only four buses fuel at our place daily. We usually see around 80 vehicles everyday.”

Officiating Director-General of the Department of Trade, Rinchen Lhazom, said that fuel price changes every day in India.

Bhutan has a memorandum of understanding with India regarding the price and they notify the economic affairs ministry on the first and 16th day of every month.

“Fuel price totally depends on the import price. India also depends on the global price where they too import around 45-50 percent from other sources in a raw form. After refining, India export to other neighbouring countries,” Rinchen Lhazom said.

At the national level, the fuel demand decreased amid lockdown owing to limited vehicle movement, said Rinchen Lhazom.