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ISLAMABAD: The lack of planning and mismanagement in the oil sector that hampered the smooth functioning of refineries and caused fuel shortages in some parts in recent weeks appears to be moving towards jet fuels.

Informed sources told Dawn the oil industry was struggling to meet full requirement of the aviation and defence aircraft. They said the defence authorities had written a series of letters to the concerned quarters to keep a close watch on fuel supplies required for air-force.

Separately, the state-run Pakistan State Oil is reported to have warned of fuel constraints at upcountry airports. “Since November 22, we have written more than five warnings to the petroleum ministry about imminent dry-outs at airports that could force the Civil Aviation Authority to declare NOTAM – a situation where a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is issued to alert aircraft pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight.”

In a latest letter, the PSO told the petroleum ministry that refineries were supplying lower than committed aviation fuels. JP-1 is used by airlines while JP-8 is mostly used by defence aircrafts.

“Parco has indicated that it will supply 16,000 metric tonnes (MT) jet fuel to PSO whereas Attock Refinery Limited 2,000 MT against our demand of 37,000 for the month of December 2017, which is less than 50 per cent,” said a letter received at the Petroleum Division.

“In this scenario up-country airports i.e. Lahore, Sialkot, Multan, Faisalabad, Islamabad and Peshawar cannot be supplied required jet fuel quantities and imminent dry out is expected at Lahore airport by Dec 8/9, 2017 followed by Islamabad airport by Dec 11/12, 2017,” it said adding that even if PSO planed import of cargo it will not be available during the month in view of tendering and import cycle.

If the demand is not met by Parco and ARL, then PSO will be forced to expand rationing to all the airports in central and northern region. “CAA will issue NOTAM in this regard, which will be detrimental for country’s image and aviation industry,” PSO said.

The state-run company asked the highest office to direct Parco to support PSO by allocating 34,000 MT jet fuel to avert this situation. Additionally, ARL should also be directed to provide 3,000 MT during the current month. It demanded that if refineries were unable to supply required quantities, PSO be given clear picture so that alternate arrangements of jet fuel availability through imports” could be made.

PSO asked the federal government to intervene and ensure to enhance allocation of jet fuel to PSO as requested above to avoid closure of airports due to non-availability of product.

On Friday, the government started issuing orders to the refineries and marketing companies at product review meeting to ensure supplies they had committed last month. For example, it issued a letter to Shell Pakistan to honour its commitment. A written order seen by Dawn noted that the Shell Pakistan Limited tabled their demand of 10,895 MTs for the month of December 2017 for Islamabad airport.

“OMCs are responsible to make necessary arrangements to cater their demand either from local availability or through imports. Shell is well aware that all refineries have reduced their throughput due to prevailing furnace oil issue in the country resulting in reduced allocation of products including JP-1, among the OMCs,” the order said.

Accordingly, in order to avoid any untoward situation at Islamabad airport, Shell Pakistan is directed to take immediate actions for meeting the demand of the airport failing which responsibility would rest with the company.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2017