KARACHI: Pakistan is experiencing a petrol crisis, with only four major oil marketing companies (OMCs) holding 90% of the petrol stock, while the rest are not importing the fuel due to exchange losses.
The country is suffering from a petrol shortage, with Punjab, the most populated province, bearing the brunt of the situation. The principal fuel is not available in the province’s major cities, towns, and villages.
The problem has been exacerbated in recent days, despite the government’s advice to citizens not to stockpile petrol in expectation of a price increase in the next fortnightly review, scheduled for February 15, 2023.
According to sources in the country’s oil business, the oil marketing corporations, petroleum dealers, and the government are all to blame. They pointed out that the bulk of businesses was not importing petrol due to exchange losses, which the government had only partially and in stages.
OMCs lacked even 20-day supply
They said that smaller OMCs lacked even a 20-day supply of gasoline since they were not importing it due to exchange rate concerns.
Only Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Shell Pakistan, Total Parco, and Attock Petroleum import fuel, and these four corporations hold 90% of the stock. There are approximately 50 OMCs in the country, with some having little stock and others have run empty.
“Who will import petrol when there are fears that exchange rate losses will not be rectified and will take time to be repaid?” an OMC official inquired.
OMCs’ low import of fuel
According to sources, aside from the majority of OMCs’ low import of fuel, petroleum merchants were also having a field day and were engaging in petrol hoarding in anticipation of the predicted hike in prices by mid-February.
The ex-refinery price of petrol is rising, owing primarily to the enormous dollar rise against the rupee. According to oil industry sources, dealers are taking advantage of the situation by hoarding in order to benefit from it.
The government’s policies, particularly those relating to taxation on petroleum products, have also contributed to the petrol shortage.
“If the government has to raise taxes on petroleum items, it should do so immediately rather than waiting for the fortnightly review, as this allows hoarders to take advantage of the situation and make large profits,” the sources said.