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January 18, 2015

Steps urged to ensure energy security


January 18, 2015

LAHORE: Energy security is as crucial as food and territorial securities and the government should take effective measures in this regard, experts said on Saturday.
“In Pakistan, energy shortage is badly impacting the industrial production through reduction in power supply, while agriculture has come under pressure, as tube-wells cannot be operated due to unavailability of diesel and power,” said Faisal Qamar, an economist.
He said the territorial security has become vulnerable to any adventure by the enemy across the border. No explanations on the reasons for abrupt shortage of fossil fuel in the country could abdicate the government of its responsibility, he said, adding, oil reserves are not maintained according to the stocking capacity in the country.
If the demand had increased as claimed by the petroleum minister by 25 percent even then the government could have arranged additional supplies.
Pakistan has petroleum storage capacity for 20 days, Qamar said, adding, oil could be imported from the Gulf countries within a week.
He said as the oil rates are declining rapidly ready deliveries are available in open seas at lower than global market rates.
A senior economist Naveed Anwar Khan said the current crisis is a clear cut case of mismanagement.
The crisis should be taken seriously, he said, adding, half of the vehicles are off the roads in North Punjab. This, he said, includes goods transport.
Khan said commuters had already been badly affected. Many employees could not make it to their offices on Saturday. He apprehended the consumers would now face acute crisis of perishable items that come in to the cities.
Fortunately, the crops in upcountry do not need water at this time and the absence of fossil fuels would not affect agriculture production. However, he said there would be problem in the transportation of harvested crops, particularly sugarcane and to some extent rice.
Khan said energy security cannot be compromised

because of its importance for the defence of Pakistan, viability of industrial sector and smooth agricultural operations.
Steps, he said, should be taken to ensure that such situation do not reoccur in the future.
The crisis occurred due to the lack of oversight by the regulatory institutions, he said, adding, the country has paid a huge price for delayed appointments in the regulatory institutions that has weakened them.
Market analyst Amina Usman said the economy cannot be run on the whims of the ruling party or the bureaucracy. There should be standard operating procedures for maintaining strategic stocks like fuel and food, she said.
Price should not be the criteria in this regard, she said, adding, maintenance of strategic reserves should be the priority.
The current crisis shows there are either no SOPs or they were not being followed. She said if the SOPs were not followed those responsible should be taken to task. And if there were no SOPs formulated those managing petroleum affairs should be taken to task. She said no nation could afford casual attitude towards energy, food or territorial security.

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