It is heartening to note that the 69-kilometre petroleum pipeline between Amlekhgunj of Nepal and Motihari of India has come into operation. About 32.7-km of the pipeline falls in India while 36.2-km is in the Nepali territory. This trans-national fuel pipeline project is the first of its kind in South Asia. With a capacity of 2 million tons per annum, the much-hyped project will be very beneficial for Nepal as it may help to provide cleaner petroleum products at affordable price to the domestic market. Following the operation of the pipeline, the fuel transportation cost will drop by around Rs. 1 billion annually. The project was inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi through a video conference on September 10. The executive heads of the two nations pressed a button to open the valve of the petroleum pipeline through a live video conference connected between the Prime Minister's Office at Singha Durbar in Kathmandu, and the Office of Indian Prime Minister in New Delhi. Immediately after the inauguration of the project, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) announced the reduction of petrol, diesel and kerosene by Rs. 2 per litre.
The project has completed almost 15 months ahead of its schedule. Having signed in 2015, construction of the 30-month project had kicked off in April 2018. This is one of few connectivity projects that the two neighbours have been planning for the last couple of years. The infrastructure for the pipeline project had been built jointly by the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The Government of Nepal invested Rs. 750 million while the Government of India contributed about IRs. 2 billion for the project. The two sides carried out a test of the pipeline in July before agreeing to bring it into operation. Prime Minister Oli said that the petroleum pipeline was one of the best examples of connectivity between Nepal and India in terms of trade and transit infrastructure. Stating that the Nepal-India cooperation was not limited to only a few projects, Oli said that the petroleum pipeline would help enhance interconnectivity and cooperation between the two friendly neighbours. He further said that many more bilateral projects covering different areas of cooperation like railways, inland waterways, roads, hydropower, integrated check posts, bridges, agriculture, tourism, among others, were in the pipeline. He also thanked Indian Prime Minister Modi and the latter’s government for extending the support for such a vital project.
Meanwhile, terming the Nepal-India energy cooperation project as a symbol of intimacy, Indian Prime Minister Modi hoped that it would help enhance the energy security of the region and substantially reduce fuel transportation costs. He also reiterated the Indian commitment to Nepal’s development. Mentioning that the Nepal-Indian relationship would continue to be enhanced in the days ahead, he said that bilateral projects conceived by the two countries were progressing well and he hoped to jointly inaugurate them with his Nepali counterpart in the future. As invited by Prime Minister Oli, Modi assured that he would visit Nepal soon. Nepal imports around 70 per cent of the total fuel consumed through the Raxaul depot of the IOC. Thus, the project is a testimony of consolidation of the bilateral ties between the two neighbours.