Export of LPG or liquefied petroleum gas to neighbouring India has remained halted for about three and a half months due to the coronavirus pandemic, market insiders said.
LPG export to India has remained suspended since the first day of the nationwide shutdown on March 26, chief executive officer of Omera Petroleum Ltd ShamsulHaque Ahmed told the FE on Monday.
During the shutdown or lockdown in both the countries, almost all types of transportation including air, rail, public transport as well as movement of private vehicles were restricted exceptingsome critical travel services.
However, public and private offices in the two countries have recently reopened on a limited scale.
Bangladesh initiated exporting LPG commerciallyto India from the first week of January this year with an initial consignment of around 1,000 tonnes per month.
Two privately-owned Bangladeshi firms--Omera Petroleum and Beximco LPG-- are now exporting LPG to Tripura, the landlocked northeastern state of India, by road.
Both the firms were exporting around 500 tonnes per month each, which they were planning to increase fivefold to 2,500 tonnes per month, Mr Ahmed said.
"We shall start again commercial export of LPG to India soon as the shutdowns in both the countries have eased with lifting of restrictions on plying of cargo transports," he said.
India's state-run Indian Oil Corporation, or IOC, is importing LPG from Bangladesh under a deal signed between Bangladesh and India on October 5, 2019 in presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the latter's visit to India.
The LPG carrying tankers are shipping the fuel to Bishalgarh of Tripura through Bangladesh's Bibirbazar land border point of Cumilla district on highways. India's IOC bottles the fuel at its Bishalgar bottling plant from where it markets the product to consumers especially for cooking purposes.
Previously, the IOC was eyeing to supply LPG to India's landlocked northeastern states using Bangladesh's Chattogram, formerly known as Chittagong, seaport and then to carry the fuel by road to bordering Indian states like Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.
Thenit was planning to ship LPG to Chattogram port from India's Paradip port in Odisha or the Haldia port in West Bengal.
But deemed unfeasible as it took at least a couple of days passing some 1700-kilometre distance to carry LPG to India's Tripura.
Now Bangladeshi LPG firms can supply LPG to Bishalgarh of Tripura only within a portion of a day passing only around 200-km distance by road.
Omera and Beximcoare, however, exporting LPG to India after importing the fuel from Middle Eastern suppliers, said Mr Ahmed.
India's northeastern states--Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura--have a population of around 60 million.