PSO says 'ample stocks' available as fuel shortage rumours trigger panic buying in Karachi

Updated February 19, 2020

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Long queues of cars and motorcycles were seen at petrol pumps as residents rushed to stock up on fuel on Wednesday evening. — INP/File
Long queues of cars and motorcycles were seen at petrol pumps as residents rushed to stock up on fuel on Wednesday evening. — INP/File

A panic-like situation was witnessed at petrol pumps in Karachi on Wednesday evening as rumours of an impending fuel shortage triggered panic buying among the city's residents.

However, the state-run Pakistan State Oil (PSO) company insisted that it has "ample stock" available of fuel and that there is no need for people to panic.

"We have sufficient stocks available and there is absolutely no issue of fuel supply," PSO spokesperson Imran Rana told Dawn.com.

"We will not let Karachi dry. Every consumer will get the fuel," he added.

The development comes a day after PSO decided to temporarily close its oil terminal in Keamari to save its staff from getting affected by a toxic gas leak in the neighbourhood that has caused more than a dozen deaths and hospitalised countless others.

Long queues of cars and motorcycles were seen at petrol pumps as residents rushed to stock up on fuel.

A vehicle owner standing at a fuel station near the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi told Dawn that he was buying petrol as it might not be available for the next two days.

However, Shabbir Suleman of the All Pakistan CNG/Petroleum Dealers Association said that while the supply of petrol has been affected, there is no shortage of fuel in the city.

He said that people had become panicked due to certain misleading reports on mainstream and social media.

His comments were echoed by the PSO spokesperson, who told Dawn.com that the company has made its Zulfiqarabad Oil Terminal (ZOT), the largest oil storage facility in the country, operational for 24 hours after suspending operations at the Keamari oil terminal.

Rana said the PSO has 23 oil terminals across the country out of which only one (Keamari) was currently non-functional.

In a statement, the PSO spokesperson said that the company is ensuring uninterrupted supply of petroleum products at all of its pumps.

"Uninterrupted supply of petroleum products is being ensured in all parts of the country including Karachi," the statement said, adding that an increase in consumer load was witnessed due to petrol pumps of other oil marketing companies closing down in Karachi.

It further said that tankers filled with petroleum products are currently docked at Karachi's ports for supply to the PSO.

According to the handout, the PSO is supplying fuel greater than its market share in the wake of the current situation as a matter of "public benefit".

The statement cautioned, however, that consumers may have to wait at PSO petrol pumps while obtaining fuel.