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June 3, 2020

‘Energy demand not assessed in run-up to lockdown ease’


June 3, 2020

LAHORE: National energy demand is not being assessed and met in the run up to unlocking of businesses, creating hindrances in their smooth running.

Ministry of energy has not come up with a summer outlook plan, elaborating demand and supply of electricity while consumers are subject to outages spanning several hours daily by distribution companies. As businesses are gradually opening from month of June, most of owners of varied commercial activities are starting meeting their expenditures of backup power supplies.

They are braving the double whammy of power supply suspension as well as dearth of fuel in the country.

“If I have to rely on my generator for back-up supply, I need diesel for having a dependable alternate system, which unfortunately is not readily available,” said a trader working at Ferozpur Road construction material market.

There is no centralised power demand and supply sharing system. The bottlenecks in liquid fuel supply chain have been witnessed for last month or so almost with the downward slide in petroleum products prices.

It seems that energy managers have been caught unaware and are not ready for meeting challenges of greater power and fuel needs of commercial and industrial activities. There are apparent no coordination and synchronisation among the related ministries and departments. Assessment of load is also not being done to factor in emerging situation amid unlocking of business amid outbreak of coronavirus.

Power distribution companies, including Lahore Electric Supply Company, have started to increase electricity outages in the country. This coincided with opening of business after about two months. There is no typical surge in power demand nowadays and this trend is likely to prevail in at least one more week. However, power outages have been carried out, crippling already suffered business and commercial activities.

When contacted, spokesman of power division of ministry of energy did not comment on the imbalance in demand and supply of electricity in the country.

Pakistan State Oil negated the notion that there was any shortage of fuel in the country saying the company had ample fuel reserves to meet nation’s needs. However, the supply in pipeline for upcoming month is also not as per demand.

The company said on June 1, 2020, PSO sold more than 48,000 metric tons petroleum products across the country, which comes to around a vessel’s quantity. The company received a cargo of around 58,000 tons of gasoline on 30 May 2020 to be followed by five more cargoes around 60,000 tons each arriving during current month to meet the requirements.

In the run-up to unlocking of business amid COVID-19 pandemic, the above mentioned quantities in pipeline are clearly not sufficient to meet demand especially if we factor in high demand witnessed on the first of June.

However, the company insisted that there was no imminent shortage of fuel in the country as company had ample fuel reserves in its stocks, which were dispensed as usual at all PSO retail outlets across country. Keeping terminals and its depots operational 24/7 and taking these preemptive measures are a testament to PSO’s commitment to ensuring smooth fuel supplies nationwide.

Meanwhile, commenting on the nationwide petroleum crisis, petroleum dealers demanded transparent inquiry. The All Pakistan Petroleum Retailers Association demanded a detailed probe into nationwide fuel shortage and asked the authorities to fix the responsibility.

All the oil companies except PSO delayed import of petroleum products and violated the rules regarding maintaining the fuel stock, which resulted in the scarcity of petrol, diesel, and other products across the country, it said.

This was observed in a Zoom web meeting in which leaders of the All Pakistan Petroleum Retailers Association from all four provinces participated.

Speaking at the occasion, Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha said unnecessary delay in the import of

petroleum products inflicted a loss of billions

of rupees to the government in revenue while masses were deprived of the benefit of reduced prices.

Paracha said presently oil marketing companies have stopped supply to the petrol pumps while some filling stations are getting reduced supplies which are not enough to satisfy

the demand of consumers resulting in serious problems.

Paracha said the shortage of petroleum products could hit the transport sector and lead to increased fares of public transport, therefore petroleum products should be imported immediately.

Companies should abide by the rules and regulations regarding keeping stock of petrol and diesel to meet any emergency.