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Oil industry seeks time for compliance

Updated July 07, 2017
An old-design oil tanker is seen in this file photo.
An old-design oil tanker is seen in this file photo.

ISLAMABAD: The oil industry has sought 1-2 years for upgradation of oil tankers fleet to ensure all vehicles meet required regulatory standards and shifting oil movement to pipelines instead of roads in 3-4 years to eliminate risk factors.

On Thursday, the Oil Companies’ Advisory Council (OCAC) – an umbrella organisation of almost two dozen oil marketing companies and refineries – said it was deeply saddened by the Ahmedpur East tragedy in which over 200 people lost their lives.

The OCAC executive committee has worked out a three-pronged plan to further strengthen the existing system of oil transportation to ensure safe delivery.

In the short term (up to six months), the companies would strengthen existing systems and processes in the area of management of vehicles, drivers, journey and mutual emergency engagement with federal and provincial government departments and civic agencies and cartage contractors. They would improve joint coordination and control systems when such incidents occur.

The industry would ensure public engagement and awareness with the help of federal and provincial governments to ensure that people understand the hazardous nature of petroleum products and understand how they are to be handled especially when such incidents take place.

In the medium term (1-2 years), the overall fleet would be upgraded to meet regulator’s technical standards and implement recommendations from studies already conducted and those underway to alleviate some of the issues and bottlenecks around ports and various areas of supply chain.

The OCAC said all petrol movement from south to north of the country through roads should be transitioned to pipelines so as to eliminate safety exposure linked with road transport.

The association said the Ahmedpur East incident began with the tanker rolling over and spilling its oil contents but it was the fire which was the major contributor to the disaster. This occurred during the collection of petrol spilled from the upended tanker following a spark taking place in the immediate vicinity.

“Lack of awareness on the dangers associated with the highly flammable fuel caused the loss of over 200 precious lives,” a statement by the OCAC said.

The industry said such incidents not only highlight lack of public safety awareness but also the inherent weaknesses in our system and society that encourages people to pursue such activity unaware of the danger that await them. The tragic incident claimed more than 200 lives and is an eye-opener for the entire nation, a great tragedy for which no matter what words we express are insufficient, the OCAC said.

The OCAC explained that currently most of the high speed diesel (HSD) was being transported via pipeline while a major amount of premier motor gasoline (PMG) was transported across the country through tank lorries.

The growth rates for PMG have been between 10-20 per cent per annum over the last several years due to exponential increase in demand. “Catering to such an increase has put tremendous pressure on the supply chain of the country including ports, terminals, road transport and retail network, especially during peak periods of demand, such as Eid,” the OCAC said.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2017