Kathmandu: A key petroleum exploration project in Nepal's Dailekh has been stalled as the contractor Chinese team which had gone back to their country did not return in nearly two years.

An agreement reached between Nepal and China should have already submitted the full report of petroleum exploration. However, the Chinese team, which studied the initial phase in 2020, did not return to Nepal after returning home citing the rise in COVID-19, Nepal's Pardafas News reported.

Since then, China has not sent its team to Nepal.

In February 2020, an agreement was reached between Nepal and the Chinese government for financial and technical assistance of Rs 2.4 billion for exploration and excavation, Pardafas News reported.

As per the agreement, the Chinese team was required to complete the first phase of exploration which included a geological and petroleum survey in the Dailekh area. It also required the officials to identify the drilling site in the district.

The second phase of exploration required surveying the whole country to study the availability of petroleum products in the country.

The availability of petroleum products could only be known after drilling work is completed, the report said.

The Chinese technical and expert team, which was scheduled to arrive on April 11, 2021, has shown not returned yet.

Nepal and China had agreed to cooperate in the exploration and extraction of petroleum products in April 2016.