Import of petrol, crude oil to be restricted from April 1

ISLAMABAD: The government has imposed restrictions on the import of petrol and crude oil starting April on Thursday in response to low demand amid lockdown and as a measure to keep the imports bill from shooting up.

Oil marketing companies (OMCs) have been directed to lift petroleum products from local refineries witnessing a downslide in demand. Directions were issued by the Petroleum Division in a letter to Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC), urging the OMCs and refineries not to import petrol and crude oil from April onward.

Three plants of Attock Refinery Limited (ARL) have already closed and only one plant is operational following the massive dip in demand of petroleum products on account of the countrywide lockdown,. Pak-Arab Refinery Company (Parco) is also shut for the past month

National Refinery Limited (NRL) has temporarily shut down its operations and to this effect, NRL has communicated its decision to the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) as well. The closure of refineries have raised fears of significant damage to local oilfields.

Damages are expected if crude oil is not lifted from local fields, and this could affect the supply of other products of gas and LPG that are extracted from these wells as well.

A meeting of top ARL management was held on Wednesday to discuss these problems. Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan, Special Assistant to PM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Secretary Petroleum Asad Hayaddin, attended the meeting with other government functionaries and oil barons.

It was decided that relief would be provided to ARL by banning OMCs from importing petrol and crude oil, and directing them to lift maximum products from ARL to cater to the Potohar region, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and northern areas of Pakistan.

Adil Khattak, the Chief Executive Officer of Attock Refinery Limited (ARL), said that the government had assured that all OMCs will not import motor gasoline from April 2020 onward and instead lift petroleum products from ARL. He added that the refinery was at present running 50 per cent of its production capacity, which also sometime fluctuated downward, and if the OMCs started using the petroleum products of ARL, then the production activities would definitely increase.