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ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) has directed Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to establish a comprehensive monitoring system of sale of petroleum products down to the retail level to ensure accountability, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

The CCoE has also directed that all retail stations must be registered with a unique ID number. All unregistered outlets must be closed or punitive action may be taken against them.

On July 1, 2021, Petroleum Division briefed the forum about the case as stated in the summary. The forum was apprised of the implementation status on recommendations of the Committee constituted by the Federal Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives.

Secretary Petroleum Division briefed the Committee on the actions taken so far. The Committee discussed each action and passed directions accordingly. It was desired that action may be expedited on all recommendations. During the ensuing discussion, Secretary Ministry of Maritime Affairs (MoMA) indicated that there is sufficient unused storage facility at the port for strategic reserves.

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar stated that the committee working on it may consider the option as well. However, the OMCs must develop their storage to conform to their legal requirements.

The Petroleum Division, while developing the policy on storage, may look at the regional and international best practices and suggest the best feasible options.

Chairman Ogra informed the Committee about various initiatives taken so far in order to further improve the regulatory measures. Chairman CCoE directed OGRA to ensure monitoring of the OMCs at a retail level.

Chairman Ogra informed the Committee that the OMCs have been asked to provide information of their retail stations. Each station will be assigned unique identity number and will be monitored on monthly basis. Any retail station, not included in the data base of Ogra, should be considered illegal.

The sources said, an inquiry was initiated against two of the leading OMCs by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) in June 2020 on the possible cartelization but it has been placed under the carpet despite the fact that Inquiry Commission on Petroleum Shortage has already submitted its very comprehensive report to the government. Unconfirmed reports indicate that both the OMCs have reportedly special inroads in the CCP due to which probe against them is not heading towards any logical conclusion.

After detailed discussion, the CCoE took the following decisions: (i) Law & Justice Division to expedite vetting of the draft SROs relating to proposed amendments/changes in the OGRA Ordinance 2002;(ii) Petroleum Division to conclude the study on storage for strategic reserves and present the same to the CCoE within the month of July;( iii) Petroleum Division to submit a summary for draft Refining Policy 2021 to the CCoE within a week ;(iv) Petroleum Division to expedite the process of the establishment of monitoring cell for reliable data collection, analyses and decision making and present to CCoE within one month, the timeframe for establishment of the cell.

Meanwhile, an interim arrangement shall be put in place within one month to avoid any shortages in the country;(v) FIA to present status of inquiry/investigation on petroleum crises to the CCoE in the next meeting;(vi) Ogra to make changes in the rules to redefine punitive measures and fines. The CCoE be updated within next two weeks; (vii) Ogra to establish a monitoring system of sale of petroleum products down to the retail level to ensure accountability.

All retail stations must be registered with unique ID number. All unregistered outlets must be closed or any punitive action may be taken against them. The progress update shall be presented after two weeks; and (viii) Petroleum Division to identify critical cases, where stays have been sought by the OMCs. The Division may request the Attorney General of Pakistan for seeking legal help/support to vacate the stays. The CCoE be kept informed on the updates.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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