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March 31, 2020

ARL closes its biggest plant: No uplift of POL produce by OMCs

National

March 31, 2020

ISLAMABAD: After the National Refinery Limited (NRL) shutdown, the Attock Refinery Limited (ARL) has at last closed down its biggest plant, which was refining 26,000 barrels per day crude oil in the wake of no upliftment of POL products by oil marketing companies, making the refinery unable to receive the crude oil as there is no storage capacity left with the refinery any more.

The top management of ARL in a letter written here on Monday (March 30, 2020) to Secretary Petroleum Division Mr Main Asad Hayaud Din sensitized him that oil marketing companies (OMCs) have not uplifted the POL products from the refinery, which is why the top management was left with no option but to close down its biggest plant (Main Unit).

However, according to the letter, whose copy is available with The News, the refinery which earlier closed down two small units has made them partially operational to refine crude oil of 12,000-13,000 barrels per day for the next 2 to 3 days after which crude oil storages would also top up and a complete shutdown of the refinery is imminent. And if it happens then, the letter says that the oil fields will be choked if crude oil from said fields is not lifted and more importantly this will also squeeze the gas supply from the said oilfields in Potohar Northern region. The letter also reminds the secretary Petroleum Division about the video conference held on March 26, 2020 on the issue of products uplift and crude receipt crisis at the ARL.

The letter also apprised the top man of the Petroleum Division saying that despite the assurance given during the meeting, there has been hardly any improvement in products upliftment from the ARL. Except the APL (Attock Petroleum Limited), no other OMCs have lifted any significant product from us.

Though the government in the wake of massive cut in the demand of POL products because of countrywide lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, had imposed a ban on OMCs from importing petrol and crude oil by refineries from April onward and ordered the OMCs to lift petrol from local refineres, particularly from ARL to cater to needs of people in Potohar, KPK and Northern Areas, the letter mentions that on ground no movement of ARL products has started to other supply envelops other than that of ARL, to accommodate the refinery products so that its top management could continue to operate in relaxation of IFEM rules.

The letter further says given the unfortunate situation, the top management of the refinery would be shutting down its Main Unit today (Monday). And just to cater for the heavy crude oil produced from the Potohar Northern region, it would be partially operating for the next few days "after which our crude oil storages would also top up and a complete shutdown of the refinery is imminent".

In case of ARL complete shutdown of the refinery, the letter says crude oil and associated gas supplies from the E&P companies would be adversely affected.

Meanwhile, the government has allowed the Pak-Arab Refinery (PARCO) to run its operations which were earlier shut down, but according to the sources, PARCO will run at its minimum capacity as there is no demand of the POL products in the country.

Meanwhile, Adil Khattak, Chief Executive Officer of Attock Refinery Limited, while talking to The News said that ARL’s vehicles while coming from decanting facility have been captured by the Attock police in Fatehjang. According to him, police said that since there is a lockdown, so they have captured the vehicles knowing the fact that the refinery business is part of essential services.

"But the policemen said they would not release the vehicles of refinery, instead they would use themselves as they have no vehicles," he added saying that the government needs to restore the writ of law and authorities concerned should immediately release the ARL vehicles.