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Amid mounting criticism, petroleum minister apologises for fuel crisis

Updated January 19, 2015


DawnNews screengrab shows Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressing a press conference.
DawnNews screengrab shows Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressing a press conference.

ISLAMABAD: A week into the debilitating fuel shortage distressing the Punjab province, Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday said he was ashamed on behalf of the government that the crisis has been allowed to continue.

At a press conference in Islamabad, Abbasi accepted responsibility for the crisis and said that a high-level committee had been formed to investigate those responsible for the shortage.

The minister said that oil supply has been increased by 30 per cent throughout the country.

He said that shortage of petrol in some areas of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa occurred due to exceptional demand following substantial reduction in prices.

He further stated that closure of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations in some areas of Punjab also caused shortage of the commodity.

“Supply has increased by 50 per cent in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and 100 per cent in Lahore,” Abassi said during his briefing.

“CNG supply has been restored in Lahore and Karachi so that pressure can be removed from petrol stations,” he said.

The petroleum minister expressed optimism that the energy crisis would be resolved within a week. He also said that petroleum prices will be further reduced in the country in February.

PM chairs high level meeting on petrol crisis

Earlier today, Abbasi and other high-ranking officials participated in a meeting on the petroleum crisis which took place at the Prime Minister's House in the federal capital.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had chaired the high-level meeting.

Besides Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar and Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif also attended the meeting.

During the meeting, Abbasi briefed the participants on the reasons behind the acute shortage of petrol, and also highlighted the steps undertaken to overcome it.

The premier expressed strong displeasure over the crisis and directed the officials present at the meeting to fix the matter.

Petrol shortage hits Karachi

The fuel crisis affected Karachi as well, with petrol pumps in many areas being shut due to shortage of available stock.

Motorists and bikers faced immense problems due to the shortage.

Some consumers stated that the fuel crisis was being amplified to pave the wave for privatisation of Pakistan State Oil (PSO). They also said that the federal government was responsible for the petrol crisis.

Locals said that maintaining a proper oil stock was a strategic need for Pakistan and that shortsighted rulers have jeopardised that.

Some citizens suggested importing petrol from Iran on an emergency basis to save Sindh and Balochistan from an oil crisis that may hurt the economy of not only Karachi but the entire country.

Last week, the petrol crisis in Punjab had taken a turn for the worse as an increasing number of petrol pumps dried up and hundreds queued up outside fuel stations in various cities.

Frustrated citizens in Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Sialkot and Multan spent Sunday queuing up at the handful of petrol pumps open in the respective cities, with some saying they had been there overnight without any respite.

The shortage of fuel has affected emergency healthcare services and public transporters as ambulances and buses are idle due to a lack of fuel.