ISLAMABAD: Petroleum imports plunged by nearly 55 per cent in April owing to a steep reduction in domestic demand as a result of lockdown across the country.
It is estimated that petroleum consumption in April has fallen approximately 60pc since the full lockdown was enforced and private transport came to a standstill.
Data compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed the total import bill of fuel group dipped by 54.86pc year-on-year to $580.337 million. Of these, petroleum product imports declined by 34.1pc in value during April despite increasing by 14.59pc in quantity.
Between July-April FY20, total oil imports fell 20.33pc to $9.48 billion during 10MFY20, from $11.89bn in the same period last year.
Import of crude oil decreased 86.5pc in value and 74.3pc in quantity during the month.
Similarly, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports fell by 52.22pc in value during April which would have translated into relatively lower power production through this fuel.
On the other hand, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports jumped 73.42pc in value in April, largely to plug a shortage in local production.
The PBS is yet to release April data for local production of petroleum but figures from the first nine months showed a decrease.
The fall in imports of crude oil also translated into lower production of petroleum products by local refineries.
As a result, exports of petroleum products were down by 81pc year-on-year in April. Similarly, crude exports tumbled 72.8pc in value while those of petroleum products dipped 98.46pc.
In addition, export of petroleum top naphtha reduced to zero during the month.
The dip in the local petroleum production and exports from the country is likely to drag down economic growth as the oil import bill also witnessed a double-digit decline.
According to the PBS data, in March the output of all 11 petroleum products was lower by 47.41pc compared to the same month last year. The production of two major oil products — petrol and high-speed diesel, mostly used in the transport sector and agriculture — was down 44.14pc and 52.81pc, respectively.
Meanwhile, output of furnace oil also decreased almost 45.45pc year-on-year during March, but this could be attributed to its declining share in power generation. Jet (airline) fuel production was down by 52pc while that of kerosene edged up 0.85pc.
The production of lubricating oil and jute batching oil fell 40.64pc and 25.34pc, respectively during the month under review. Similarly, LPG and solvent naphtha output in March dipped by 25.21pc and 59.83pc, respectively.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2020