ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday imposed restrictions on the import of petrol and crude oil starting April and directed all oil marketing companies (OMCs) to lift petroleum products from local refineries as demand goes down in the wake of a countrywide lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The directions in this regard 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.
Following the massive dip in demand of petroleum products on account of the countrywide lockdown, three plants of Attock Refinery Limited (ARL) have already closed and only one plant is operational. Pak-Arab Refinery Company (Parco) is also shut for the past month.
Meanwhile, 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.
The damage may be caused by not lifting crude oil 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.
The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan, Special Assistant to PM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Secretary Petroleum Asad Hayaddin, among other government functionaries and oil barons.
In the meeting, 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.
When contacted, 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% 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.