Oil supplies resume across country

December 31, 2007

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 30: Oil supplies to almost all parts of the country resumed on Sunday after the armed forces provided security to oil tankers, but retail sales would remain affected for sometime, official and market sources said.

A senior official told Dawn that the ministries of interior, defence and petroleum and natural resources remained engaged in making arrangements to overcome supply disruptions caused by miscreants in the garb of protesting political workers after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

He said it was decided that oil tankers would move in convoys in the entire Sindh and some parts of Balochistan under the security cover to be provided by military trucks. Some convoys had started leaving petroleum depots to provide oil products to retail outlets, he added.

However, the official said that retail sales in some areas of Sindh would remain suspended for about a month or so because miscreants had damaged outlets’ dispensers. He said about 45 petrol pumps had been destroyed in Karachi and interior Sindh. A twin-dispenser costs around Rs6-8 million and takes almost a month to be imported and installed.

He said that the stock position of petroleum products had improved over the past few days mainly because of disruption of normal after the government had announced three-day mourning. “Even in areas like the NWFP where oil companies were facing shortages, stocks have been replenished.”

The official said that furnace oil stocks had decreased over the past few days because of disruption in the movement of crude oil, and refineries in the upcountry were unable to produce sufficient quantities. However, he said that the supply of crude oil had been resumed and refining would become normal in two days.Refineries in Karachi and mid-country had enough stocks, but their supplies were disrupted because of the law and order situation.

Moreover, electricity consumption in almost the entire country had reduced significantly because of the suspension of industrial and commercial activities. Resultantly, the furnace oil consumptions had also declined.

Market sources said that business activities would remain affected for some time.