Oil Public Sector Undertakings (OPSUs) of Nepal and India have formally begun talks on developing the much-delayed 41-kilometer-long Amlekhgunj-Raxaul petroleum pipeline project. Officials of the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) met on Wednesday and discussed probable routes to lay the pipeline after field inspections in Amlekhgunj.
A 12-member IOC delegation is currently in Kathamndu for the talks. The project has been pending for two decades, and once completed and activated, is expected help reduce leakage, make the supply cleaner and cheaper and provide relief to Nepali consumers from frequent shortages caused by strikes.
During Wednesday's meeting, according to Nepal-based web site Kantipur Online, both sides discussed two alternative pipeline routes — right alignment of the Birgunj-Amlekhgunj road and railway corridor that links Amlekhgunj with India's Raxaul via Birgunj.
Of the 41-kilometer-long pipeline, 39-kilometers lies on the Nepali side of the border. During a bilateral talks between the NOC and IOC in Mumbai in March 2011, both sides had agreed to form a joint committee to carry out work related to tender and procurement of construction materials for the project.
Both sides had agreed to implement the project under separate ownership-joint operation model, dropping the previous idea of a joint venture. But it failed to gather momentum with legal and technical complexities emerging in every effort.