Govt rebuts rumours of petrol, diesel shortage

Rubbishing the reports about a possible shortage of petroleum products, the government on Thursday said the country had ample stock to meet the demand.

The petroleum ministry, in an official statement, referred to these reports as “rumours” are circulating on social media and said there was “no possibility of shortage”.

“The Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and other oil shipping companies have adequate stocks of petrol, diesel, kerosene and other types of petroleum products,” the statement said.

It added, “The quantity of diesel available for storage in the country is at full capacity so people should not listen to rumours, speculations and misleading information”.

In a separate statement on Twitter, the PSO said it had ample stocks available in the supply chain as per specified by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (OGRA). “As the national flag bearer, the PSO remains committed to fuelling the nation and is ensuring an uninterrupted supply of fuel at its retail outlets nationwide.”

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In their official communique, both PSO and the ministry of petroleum requested that the “rumours” of the shortage of petrol not be circulated or shared by the media.

According to the PSO, the ministry and OGRA are monitoring the status of reserves of private companies so that the “country’s supply chain continues to be maintained seamlessly”.

How did these rumours get started?

Fears regarding the supply began to sprout in the oil industry after banks refused to settle letters of credit (LCs) for the import of crude and petroleum products.

The chain of petroleum products would take six to eight weeks to normalise in the country if it was compromised on the basis of the refusal of banks to settle LCs for the import of crude and petroleum products, the oil industry feared.

And these fears were expressed by the Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) – the representative body of refineries and oil marketing companies (OMCs) — to the Ministry of Finance.

The OCAC sought the ministry’s intervention in the matter after its members started facing issues in the settlement of LCs. This occurred despite the fact that oil imports have been put on the list of essential items for opening and settlement of credit letters.

OGRA’s clarification ignored

OGRA Spokesperson Imran Ghaznavi on Jan 15 had already made in clear that there “is ample stock of petrol and diesel” in the country. “OGRA strongly denies reports of shortage of petrol and diesel in the country.”

“Sufficient stocks of petrol and diesel are available across the country. OGRA strongly rebuts the speculations on petrol/diesel shortages. Useable stocks in the country are good enough for 17 days of petrol and 32 days of diesel.”

However, speculations and fears regarding the shortage continued to circulate over the week as the central bank forex reserves plunged to the lowest level since February 2014.

This shortage of crucial dollars has left banks refusing to issue new letters of credit for importers, hitting an economy already squeezed by soaring inflation and lacklustre growth, ultimately contributing to the fears of oil shortage in the country.

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