Minister predicts another winter with no gas

KARACHI,April 06:Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik has said things are moving ahead smoothly and Pakistan is going to collect the first consignment of Russia crude oil this month.

“Import of crude oil from Russia will start this month,” Malik said on Wednesday while addressing petroleum dealers, businessmen and industrialists in Karachi.

In October last year, Pakistan said it was considering buying discounted Russian crude, citing neighbouring India, which has been purchasing oil from Moscow.

Later in January, Russian Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov said his country could start exporting oil to energy-starved Pakistan after March if terms were agreed.

“We are discussing with Islamabad whether payment could be made in the currencies of ‘friendly’ countries,” he had said during a visit to Pakistan.

Pakistani officials and Shulginov had confirmed that key elements of the deal had yet to be agreed.

“As for the supply of crude oil and petroleum products, we conceptually agreed on the development and signing of an agreement that will determine and resolve all issues of logistics, insurance, payment and volumes,” Shulginov was later quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Malik said oil dealers had given some suggestions regarding provision of cheap petrol. “The ministry of petroleum will prepare a scheme for supply of cheap petrol only after reviewing it,” he added.

The state minister said the country’s gas reserves were rapidly depleting and that Pakistan would face a gas shortage in winter this year as well.

“Our gas reserves are depleting and round-the-clock gas supply is not possible. The demand for gas increases from November. Due to rains and cold weather in Balochistan, the demand for gas has increased there,” he added.

Malik said they have taken notice of shortage of electricity and gas in Karachi.

“We are making efforts to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity and gas to the consumers during suhoor and iftar hours [in Ramazan],” he remarked. “In this regard, we have also spoken to the governor of Sindh. However, I will request people to pay their bills.”

He said industries in Karachi have also complained about non-supply of electricity and gas, and small industries also have objections to electricity rates. “Due to the lack of infrastructure in Karachi, there are obstacles in the supply of gas to some areas,” he added.

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