ISLAMABAD, July 31: The message from the ministry of climate change to the oil refineries is loud and clear: they must upgrade their technologies to comply with Euro fuel standards.

“It is not the concern of the ministry how much it will cost. This has to be done to improve the environment,” said Minister for Climate Change Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan at a meeting on Tuesday to push oil refineries to produce Euro standard fuels that contained less pollutants such as sulphur, benzene and nitrogen oxide.

Representatives of oil refineries attending the meeting demanded of the government to create an enabling environment and sought financial assistance for upgrading the technologies at the refineries to produce environment-friendly fuel — an exercise practised worldwide.

“The volume of fuel produced will not increase and operating costs will be too high,” said CEO of Attock Oil Refinery Adil Khattak, explaining how the refineries would not even recover their expenses let alone make profits after the new plants were installed.

He said the refineries, which were struggling for survival, would need an investment of Rs10 billion to upgrade their equipment.

The meeting deliberated how the oil refineries had missed the deadline of January 2012 to produce Euro II-compliant fuel (improved fuel with as little as 0.05 per cent sulphur content) despite their commitment back in 2008. An order of the Lahore High Court was read out that said how refineries were to produce Euro III gasoline by 2010 and Euro IV gasoline by 2013. The same applied to diesel fuel.

The ministry could not come to terms with the version of oil refineries that the economic coordination committee (ECC) of the cabinet had extended the compliance date to 2014.

The minister for climate change, who believed that the ministry of petroleum had been and still was protecting refineries, said that his ministry would take up the issue with the ECC again.

“We cannot function according to the whims/interests of the industry without taking into consideration impacts on people and environment,” said Rana Farooq Saeed Khan, elaborating how he sensed a lack of interest amongst the refineries to work for a cleaner environment that caused the discussion to drift to the responsibilities of the corporate sector. However, the representatives of refineries urged the ministries of petroleum and climate change to work together to come up with a clear policy on the way forward. According to them, a capital-intensive plant would take two years to install. They urged the minister to wait for the task force formed by the ministry of petroleum to complete its working that would also include a stated policy and a road map.

The meeting ended without a clear-cut plan of action until the task force will give its recommendations on August 1.

Updated Jul 31, 2012 10:22pm

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