The trend is attributed to Indian vehicles fuelling at the border towns
Fuel: The increasing number of vehicles imported may have fueled the fuel imports, but nearly 20 percent of petrol and 6.5 percent of diesel on average were re-exported in the last five years.
The re-exporting is a result of fuel consumed by Indian vehicles plying on Bhutanese roads and foreign vehicles refuelling at the border towns of Samdrupjongkhar, Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Samtse.
While fuel import grew by an average of 9.19 percent from 2011 -2014, the number of vehicles imported over the same period has also increased from 54,943 to 69,602 showing a growth of 26.7 percent.
However, figures from the latest national accounts statistics reveal that in the last five years, Bhutan imported 691,524 Kilo liters (KL) of petrol and diesel worth Nu 33B.
Of this 47, 645 KL, worth around Nu 3.4B has been re-exported. The re-export (refueling by vehicles that are not registered in Bhutan) of diesel between 2010 and 2014, reached 11 percent of the supply in 2012 and a record low of 2.2 percent in 2014. But re-export of petrol increased significantly from 15.2 percent in 2010 to 23.2 percent in 2013, within just three years and dropped to 22 percent last year.
There is no records kept at the fuel stations, but those at the fuels stations at the border say at least 50 percent of the vehicles that fuel along the stations are from across the border. “We cannot say, but we see many vehicles with Indian registration number daily,” said a staff of a fuel station in Phuentsholing. “Indians make cash payment and do not even ask for receipt so we don’t record.” The station sells more than 5,000 litres of fuel a day.
Sector wise, households grasp 60.33 percent of total number of vehicles in the country as of last year, followed by service sector with 27.98 percent and agriculture sector with 7.98 percent of the total vehicles.
Following this trend, figures reveal that three fourth of the petrol imported in the last five years were consumed by private vehicles registered in Bhutan. A share of roughly four percent of petrol was used by various sectors such as the industries, services and agriculture.
As for diesel consumption, the major consumer is the service and industry sectors. Last year, 50 percent of the total diesel was consumed in the service sector, 32 percent by the industries and 11 percent by the agriculture sector. Diesel consumption by households stand at mere three percent while the remaining 2.2 percent of diesel is again re-exported.
Meanwhile, the country imported 148,563KL of petrol and diesel worth Nu 7.7B last year, higher by 38,621 KL in 2010.
However, including the trade and transport margins, supply at market price stood at Nu 8.6B last year.
According to the national accounts statistics, 2015, there was a sharp decline in the growth of GDP, number of vehicles and fuel consumption from 2011 to 2013, the period of import restrictions, and a modest growth of around two percent on fuel and number of vehicles from last year.