190,000 tons of petrol to be imported

Posted on June 16, 2011. Filed under: Energy crisis, Fossil fuels |

JUNE 15, 2011

ABDUL RASHEED AZAD

The country will import 190,000 tons of petrol during this month to meet the shortage of petrol across the country, especially Punjab, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). This was decided in a meeting, with Federal Minister for Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain in the chair.

It was also attended by Secretary Petroleum, Chairman Oil and gas Regularity Authority (Ogra), high-ups of oil refineries, Member, Oil Ministry of Petroleum, besides the representatives of oil marketing companies (OMCs). The minister directed the officials concerned to ensure availability of petrol and make all necessary arrangements to end petrol shortages within two days.

The meeting was informed that due to petrol shortage, the government had decided to import 190,000 tons of petrol this month. It was also told that a ship carrying 50,000 tons of oil would arrive at Karachi port on Wednesday. The minister said that 35,000 tons of oil is already on its way from Karachi to Punjab, AJK and GB, while another ship carrying 50,000 tons of petrol would arrive at Karachi port on Wednesday. He said total 190,000 tons of petrol would be imported this month, adding that as many as five ships would berth in Karachi.

Dr Asim termed these shortages “artificial”. He vowed strict action against those behind scarcity of this commodity in various parts of the country. He added that special monitoring teams of Ogra and Petroleum Ministry were visiting the affected areas.

An Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) official, who attended the meeting, said that the government had cancelled licences of four OMCs for their failure to maintain 20 days’ petrol stocks. These are Admore, Hascol, Ootcl and Bosicor. “We have also found out that in the past there were some oil marketing companies that were given licences to operate, without binding them to follow the rules and regulations of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra),” he added.

According to details, Admore owns eight outlets in AJK, but has nothing to sell, right now. Hascol has three outlets, Ootcl one, and Bosicar four, but none of them have any stock to sell just now. All these OMCs would be penalised in accordance with the Ogra rules and regulations, the official said.

He said that the petrol crisis was aggravated due to earlier closure of the plat-former of Attock Refinery (ARL) and burgeoning circular debt, but non-maintenance of fuel stocks by some OMCs played the main role. The official said that Ogra has also served show-cause notice on ARL for keeping the ministry in the dark and dodging senior officials about the exact date of closure of the plat-former which produces motor spirit (petrol).

The ARL management had informed the DG, Oil, on May 20 that it would close down the plat-former on June 20, but it suddenly shut down the plat-former on June 1, arguing that its condition was fast deteriorating, which would have worsened the condition.

The government has directed all OMCs to ensure petrol supply on war footing basis to avert further shortage in any part of the country. He said that directions have been issued to all OMCs to supply their entire available petrol stocks to retailers.

ARL has been directed to repair its plat-former unit urgently while PSO, Shell and Chevron have been directed to ensure that they operate their outlets at 100 percent capacity. The government has warned the retailers involved in black marketing of petrol would be dealt with strictly and their pumps would be closed down. Those marketing companies which do not maintain stocks for 20 days would also be dealt with in accordance with law and, if violations continue, their licences would be revoked, the official said.

With the start of June, when Ogra announced new petroleum products prices suddenly the petrol supply to Punjab, AJ&K and Gilgit-Baltistan was halted. Muhammad Umair Mughal from Muzaffarabad told Business Recorder by phone that petrol is not available in most parts of the city for last 10 days.

Where available, petrol pumps owners are overcharging the consumers, adding that at some places petrol was being sold at Rs 150 against its official price of Rs 86 per litre. The official said that petrol shortage in Lahore almost finished on Tuesday, as imported petrol arrived in the city. In other cities of Punjab, AJ&K and Gilgit-Baltistan it would end within the next five to seven days.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2011

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