ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s oil imports plunged 73.55 per cent year-on-year to $326.75 million in May, hitting the lowest level since March when government-imposed lockdown to curtail the rising coronavirus cases in the country.
Between July-May FY20, total oil imports fell 25.33pc to $9.807 billion during 11MFY20, from $13.135bn in the same period last year.
The oil imports are on a downward trajectory since March, when they fell by over 32pc owing to a steep reduction in domestic demand as a result of lockdown across the country. April saw a further decrease of 55pc, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday.
In April, the government enforced full lockdown and private transport came to a standstill, which was eventually allowed with certain standard operating procedures after the situation was eased.
Since June 1, when the government announced a deeper cut in oil prices, the petrol pumps have stopped selling gasoline to consumers on the pretext of shortage. However, it was yet to be officially confirmed whether fuel oil is in short supply or the owners are not willing to sell it on reduced prices.
Under the fuel group, petroleum product imports declined by 74.16pc in value and 22.43pc in quantity while those of crude oil fell 79.94pc and 36.04pc, respectively.
Similarly, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports fell by 67.9pc in value during May which would have translated into relatively lower power production through this fuel.
On the other hand, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports dipped 23.91pc in value in May largely due improvement in local production. They have been on the rise for the past few months to bridge domestic output.
Cheap oil prices in the international market will help the government by cutting the overall import bill in the range of $3-$4bn by June end.
The PBS is yet to release May data for local production of petroleum but figures from the first 10 months showed a decrease.
The fall in imports of crude oil also translated into lower output of petroleum products by local refineries.
As a result, exports of petroleum products were down by 44.6pc year-on-year in 11MFY20 to $250.22m, from $451.65m.
This was led by exports tumbling 38.72pc in value while those of petroleum products 67.4pc.
In addition, the export of petroleum top naphtha reduced by 24.53pc during the period.
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.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2020