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KARACHI: The country’s oil sales touched a seven-year low to 1.35 million tonnes in August, down by 46 per cent year-on-year. Similarly, during the first two months of this fiscal year the sales also fell by 38pc to 2.988m tonnes.

The volume declined due to a steep fall of 79pc in furnace oil (FO) sales to 191,000 tonnes mainly due to reduced usage in the power sector after the availability of RLNG. Excluding FO, volumes saw decline of 27pc on account of lesser working days in the outgoing month amid Eid holidays as well as double digit growth in petroleum prices. However, FO sales suffered 70pc dip in 2MFY19 to 541,000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, high speed diesel (HSD) sales hit nearly four-year low at 493,000 tonnes, down 38pc, on increase in diesel prices by 46pc to Rs113 per litre. The 2MFY18 sales decreased by 30pc to 1.1m tonnes.

Among companies, Attock Petroleum Ltd (APL) outperformed its peers by posting a meagre 5pc decline in its volume to 181,000 tonnes. Product-wise, petrol and diesel sales of APL went up by 5pc and 25pc respectively. FO sales, on the other hand, fell by 33pc.

Pakistan State Oil remained the most affected during August as its FO sales plunged 97pc, taking the overall decline to 66pc. Excluding FO, volumes of the company were lower by 40pc with diesel and petrol dropping 55pc and 23pc, respectively, Shankar Tarleja at Topline Securities said.

In July-August FY19, petrol sales registered a 6pc fall to 1.220m tonnes while August sales stood at 606,000 tonnes as against 679,000 tonnes in the same month of previous year, he said.

According to Syeda Humaira Akhtar at BMA Capital, August sales remained depressed owing to reduced working days on account of holidays (Eid and independence day) along with monsoon season.

She said FO volumes may continue to drag the overall industry turnover with expectation of 47pc drop during FY19. Another key trigger to watch out is any development on circular debt issue (currently under review by Ministry of Finance).

She did not foresee chances of any bulk payment to settle the rising circular debt given limited fiscal space. A partial relief may likely be on the cards, where PSO holds 50pc of the total outstanding chunk, she noted.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018