Along with the upgradation works, Bhutan will be upgraded to Bharat Stage (BS) IV, a quality upgrade on fuel from 2017

Fuel: Fifteen fuel stations in the western and southern parts of the country will soon be upgraded with modern facilities such as canopies and improved driveways, among others.

There are currently 48 fuel stations in the country.

The task has been taken up by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), which has allocated around Nu 60 million for the upgradation project. The upgradation works will start sometime after six months.

This was announced during a workshop on awareness on petroleum products held in the capital yesterday, which was jointly organised by the Department of Trade and IOCL.

IOCL’s general manager in West Bengal, Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra, said the upgradation works will take from six to 12 months, which will be carried out by IOCL’s team along with officials from the Department of Trade.

“We will also upgrade electronic dispensing units in these outlets and train people in handling such electronic equipment if required. Such facilities are not even made available in retail outlets in India, which have been extended to Bhutan as a special case keeping the relationship between two countries in mind,” Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra said. “We would also like to organise trainings for customer attendants in retail outlets in petroleum handling in terms of safety and behavioural aspects as well.”

We would like to take our relationship to a higher level and hopefully people in Bhutan can see an enhanced retail outlet in terms of facilities, service and deliverance to the customers. We are also ready to extend any technical support and facilities required to open retail outlets in remote parts of the country because we have experience in such fields, Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra added.

“Along with the upgradation works, we will also be converting Bhutan to Bharat Stage (BS) IV, a quality upgrade on fuel, from 2017. India is already going into BS IV from 2017, in fact India is going into BS VI from 2020. All the supplies that are coming to Bhutan from 2017 will meet the BS IV standards,” Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra said.

BS emission standards, introduced in India in 2000, are fuel emission standards that have been set up by the central government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment including motor vehicles, Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra said. “The BS norms are based on European regulations. The fuel upgradation to BS IV means the emission of green house gases and sulphur will be minimum, which can contribute in bringing down the overall climate change.”

The general manager also highlighted a few issues pertaining to safety in handling petroleum products particularly in handling LPG cylinders.

“Yesterday, when I visited a few outlets, I saw LPG cylinders were stacked in horizontal positions and transported in similar manner, which is not safe from any standards. There’s a higher chance that the gas might leak, which could pose a great threat. We would like to highlight such issues during the discussions,” Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra said.

He further added that the LPG cylinders have to be tested every five years, which is called as statutory testing, for leaks and other problems irrespective of how old the cylinder has been utilised.

“There is no lifespan or expiration date of the cylinder but it has to be tested before it is used again. It can’t be used more than five years if it’s not tested. The statutory testing for the LPG cylinders has already been started and all the cylinders that are being released to the country are already tested,” he said.

Trade department’s director, Sonam Tenzin, said the workshop is a part of a memorandum of understanding that was signed between the two agencies.

“The workshop’s objective is to impart product knowledge about petroleum products, their routine handling and safety precautions to be undertaken. We greatly appreciate the participation from the IOCL, this is indicative of the importance that IOCL attaches to the development of the petroleum market in Bhutan,” Sonam Tenzin said. “I’m happy to say that we have developed an extremely close working relationship with the IOCL, it continues to show a good understanding of our needs and works resolutely to solve any problems that come in the way of supply of fuels and other products to the country.”

Trade’s joint director, Dophu Tshering, said the department is working closely with IOCL and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) to upgrade the remaining fuel stations in the eastern and central regions of the country.

The import bill of petroleum products last year was more than Nu 7 billion, which is an increase of 2.34 percent in terms of volume over the 2014 import bill.

IOCL holds about 59 percent of the market share today. BPCL holds the remaining market share.

Thinley Zangmo