PM orders punitive action against oil companies for 'artificial' fuel shortage

In this file photo, a petrol station worker wearing a facemask waits for customers while sitting next to a petrol pump during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Islamabad on April 22, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 10 June 2020

PM orders punitive action against oil companies for 'artificial' fuel shortage

  • Prime Minister Khan directs relevant authorities to ensure regular petrol supply in the country within 48 to 72 hours
  • Raiding teams have also been constituted to inspect all petrol depots and storage facilities

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed authorities to initiate legal action against those oil marketing companies who were suspected of creating “artificial shortage” of petrol and ensure regular supply of fuel across the country within 48 to 72 hours.

The decision comes after the supply of petroleum products were seriously affected in many parts of the country earlier this month as oil marketing companies and relevant authorities failed to maintain mandatory stocks at designated depots.

“Any company that is not maintaining mandatory stocks to ensure sustainable supply to its outlets as per its license will face punitive actions, including suspension and cancelation of license and heavy fines,” the prime minister said while chairing a federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad.

The cabinet noted that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and Petroleum Division had legal authority to physically enter and inspect oil companies’ storage facilities. It also directed the Petroleum Division to constitute joint raiding teams comprising OGRA representatives, officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and district administration functionaries to inspect these stocks.

“The teams will inspect all petrol depots and storage facilities,” the cabinet said. “They have all the authority to enter any site.”

Minister for industries Hammad Azhar and Adviser on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh met Prime Minister Imran Khan on June 8, 2020. (PID)

The prime minister said that anyone found involved in hoarding “shall face full force of law, including arrest and forced release of such stores.”

Earlier this month, some oil marketing companies failed to order imports and scaled down the supply of local production from refineries in anticipation of a reduction in prices to prevent inventory losses. This ultimately led to shortage and rationing of petrol to avoid a total dry out in the country.

All oil companies and refineries are bound by their licensing requirements to ensure a minimum of 21 days of consumption cover of all petroleum products at all times, irrespective of peace or war. But none of the 80 to 90 oil marketing companies and refineries reportedly met this mandatory requirement and the country’s overall average stocks of petrol and high speed diesel did not constitute more than 11-day cover in the last week.

During the cabinet briefing, the energy ministry said that total supplies available in the country in June 2019 were 650,000 metric tons while supplies arranged for June 2020 are 850,000 metric tons.

“The stocks that are being hoarded will be identified and ensured to be made available in the market and action taken against hoarders,” the cabinet decided.

It also urged the public not to engage in panic buying, while the prime minister directed all relevant authorities to ensure that every oil company maintained its 21-day mandatory stock to meet its license conditions.


Pakistani army chief, Saudi ambassador discuss regional security 

Updated 10 August 2020

Pakistani army chief, Saudi ambassador discuss regional security 

  • Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy calls on General Qamar Javed Bajwa
  • The two leaders discuss matters of mutual interest, bilateral defense relations 

ISLAMABAD: Nawaf Saeed Al-Malkiy, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, called on Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday and discussed the security situation in the region, the military’s media wing said. 
“Matters of mutual interest, regional security situation and bilateral defense relations between the two brotherly countries were discussed during the meeting,” the Pakistani army said in a statement.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are longtime allies. Saudi Arabia remains the main source of Pakistan’s remittances despite global business shutdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic. The country has also loaned Pakistan billions of dollars in recent months to help stave off a balance of payments crisis, and offered oil on deferred payments.