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ISLAMABAD: Wheat growing districts of Punjab have been reportedly facing shortage of high speed diesel (HSD) ahead of harvesting season due to expected hike in fuel prices which may cause negative impact on the government’s drive to procure targeted stock of wheat, although Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) are taking measures to avert the current shortage.

All Pakistan Petrol Pumps Dealers Association confirmed the non-availability of diesel to petrol stations in some districts of Punjab.

Nauman Ali Butt, secretary general of the association said none of the oil companies except the PSO were supplying fuel to the dealers. “Private companies (OMCs) suspended their operations and that PSO was the only supplier currently in operation in the province and the supply of diesel may restore in case government raise the prices,” he added.

The association of oil marketing companies and refineries (OCAC) says, “Since HSD sales have drastically soared in the country due to the harvesting season, OCAC is actively playing its role to effectively manage the [surge in] demand in consultation with the industry, Ogra and Ministry of Energy.”

OCAC Secretary General Dr Nazir Abbas Zaidi said, “As a result of constantly increasing imports volume and infrastructure constraints, there are challenges at ports owing to congestion/bunching of vessels etc.”

He maintained that the council was striving to address these challenges in collaboration with the Ogra by suggesting recommendations to ensure that the fuel supplies remain streamlined. Hence, it is vital to avert uncertainty and abnormal buying patterns amid ambiguous speculations, he added.

The OCAC says that cargoes carrying sufficient HSD were already waiting off-port while other planned cargoes were expected to arrive soon.

Pakistan State Oil has already floated tenders for additional purchase of cargoes. “In view of the increasing demand of diesel, mainly due to harvesting season and limited product availability/imports by other market players, PSO has arranged five additional high-speed diesel (HSD) cargoes from March till May 2022”, it has been said in a statement.

These cargoes are over and above the 11 cargoes planned in accordance with the PSO’s usual market share as committed by the PSO during the Product Review Meeting chaired by the Ogra.

“In April 2022, PSO has sold around 120 million liters i.e. 100,000 tons additional diesel which is equivalent to two import cargoes. As of April 21, 2022, the company attained a market share of 57.4 percent against historical monthly market share of 49.7 percent”, the company says.

An OGRA spokesman said that adequate fuel supplies are available across the country. “There are speculations about the diesel shortages in few pockets of Punjab”, he added.

The Ogra with all law enforcement agencies along with the district management is monitoring the situation and anyone involved in hoarding or short supply shall be dealt with, in accordance with the law, he added.

The regulator also has written a letter to provincial chief secretaries and chief commissioner Islamabad amid high sales, despite having sufficient stocks of petroleum products available in the country, there is a speculation about availability of diesel in the country, there is a speculation about availability of diesel at petrol pumps in some parts of the country.

“The said position may be attributable to the possible hoarding of diesel owing to speculative price hike in petroleum products in the coming days,” the letter said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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