KATHMANDU, Nepal – Fuel-starved Nepal has signed an agreement with China to provide gasoline, diesel and cooking gas, after India restricted its supplies as a result of ongoing political protests in the Himalayan nation, officials said Thursday.
A memorandum of understanding was signed with China National United Oil Corporation in Beijing, said Nepal Oil Corporation official Deepak Baral. Details on how much fuel would be sent to Nepal, prices and other arrangements still need to be worked out, he said.
It would be the first time Nepal would be getting fuel from China, effectively ending India’s monopoly on the fuel supply.
India has restricted fuel supplies since Madhesi ethnic groups in southern Nepal, with whom it has close cultural ties, began protesting Nepal’s new constitution, seeking more rights.
Protesters have blocked a key Nepal-India border point for weeks. Other crossings are free of protesters, but India has refused to allow a normal supply of fuel to Nepal.
Earlier this week, China also announced it would give Nepal 1.3 million litres (340,000 gallons) of gasoline to help ease severe shortages.
The gasoline will be brought to a town near the China-Nepal border. It will take about 100 tanker trucks to transport it to the capital, where it was likely to arrive by early next week.
China and Nepal share a border that has the world’s highest mountains, but its two crossings were damaged by an April earthquake and one reopened this month.