Gas: Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) dealers in Phuentsholing have started sending their cylinders to be re-qualified at the North Bengal Cylinders (NBC) plant, Siliguri, India.

While Bhutan Oil Distributor (BOD) and Druk Petroleum Corporation Limited (DPCL) have already sent their consignments, Damchen Petroleum is sending its expired cylinders today.

The expired cylinders are sent to the North Bengal Cylinders (NBC) plant at Fatakupur, Siliguri for testing and re-qualifying.  DPCL has sent around 900 expired cylinders and BOD has sent around 765 cylinders.

Damchen will be sending around 300 expired cylinders today.

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

DPCL’s deputy general manager, Pema Wangdi, said these were the cylinders currently in the market and expected to get re-qualified. “Whenever we receive the cylinders, they’ll be sent for re-qualification,” he said.    

Although none of the dealers were sure when the first consignments would successfully get re-qualified, refilled and returned, Kuensel learned the dealers have asked the cylinder plant to complete it within first week of July 2015.

It was also learned the dealers have requested the NBC party to prioritise on re-qualifying their cylinders. However, it would solely depend on NBC.

Another factor on how quick the cylinders are processed would depend on the valves of the cylinders for which NBC would need permission from the principle company, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).  IOC, on the other hand, also has to get permission from the Indian explosives controller in Nagpur, India, which dealers said may take some time.

BOD has ordered 10,000 valves and DPCL 5,000 valves.

Meanwhile, as of today, many expired cylinders are still distributed across the country.  Dealers could not provide exact figures that are currently in circulation as it would be determined only after the clients come to refill.

By the end of this month, IOC will stop entertaining refilling of expired cylinders from Bhutan.  This comes with the trade department writing a letter earlier this month.

Initially, the department had asked the oil corporation to immediately stop accepting expired cylinders.  However, following dealers’ request and also to stop inconvenience among the public, the time was extended.

Dealers said there would not be any shortage when IOC stops accepting expired cylinders.  Even if there were shortages, officials said, it would not affect the people at all.

It was also learned that the dealers have made arrangements with NBC on re-qualifying 600 cylinders a day.  This includes cylinders for all the three dealers.

However, officials also pointed that IOC’s order with the cylinder plant was another factor that would determine the time to re-qualify all the expired cylinders.  Sources said IOC had its own order of about 80,000 expired cylinders.

Bhutan is allowed to import 700 metric tonnes of subsidised LPG a month from India. BOD is the highest distributor in the country with 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 distributes 2,400 cylinders.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing