Regulatory action looms against OMCs as govt targets fuel hoarding

It is being reported that a number of retail outlets of OMCs have been found to be dry. 

ISLAMABAD: A fuel crisis may be looming in the country with reports coming in that the retail outlets of a number of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have been found dry at multiple locations. 

Worry has spread across the corridors of power regarding the possibility of more petrol pumps facing shortages in the days to come. 

In response the Petroleum Division’s Director General Oil, Imran Ahmed has called upon the Chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) to take regulatory action against those OMCs that are operating dry retail outlets.

In a letter dated September 12, 2023, the DG informed OGRA chairman that the Minister for Energy has taken serious notice of the reports of dry retail outlets of OMCs at few locations and directed that OGRA may mobilise its enforcement team to ensure that all the OMCs must keep their retails outlets wet and well supplied with petroleum products.

The DG Oil’s letter also highlighted that, according to OGRA/OCAC daily reports, the country currently possesses sufficient stocks of petrol (MS) and high-speed diesel (HSD). Therefore, any attempt at hoarding must be strongly discouraged and curbed.

The letter further emphasised that regulatory action may be taken against any OMC(s) maintaining stocks lower than the mandatory requirement so as to stave off any potential countrywide shortage of petroleum products.

In addition to the Chairman of OGRA, Imran Ahmed has also forwarded this critical directive to the Secretary General of the Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) and the Chairman of the Oil Marketing Association of Pakistan (OMAP).

An official of OGRA on condition not to be named, said that ample stocks of Diesel (i.e. 35 days cover) and Petrol (i.e. 30 days cover including vessel at birth) are available in the country as of today (12-09-2023). He said that OGRA Enforcement teams are already in field to ensure / monitor uninterrupted supplies / dry outlets in major cities of the country.  He said all OMCs have also been directed by OGRA to ensure smooth / continuous supplies at their retail outlets across the country and to remain more vigilant through their field teams. However, no shortage has been reported as yet, said OGRA official.

It is relevant to note that prices of petroleum products have soared to record highs, and there is a growing expectation that the caretaker government may consider further increases in fuel prices for the second half of September 2023. And, due to likely hike in oil prices, some of the petrol pumps, in a bid to gain more inventory benefits, are used to seek additional quantities of petroleum products when the oil prices are estimated to go up.

It is worth mentioning that this proactive approach reinforces the government’s willingness to protect the interests of the populace, especially at a time when global energy prices are on the rise, and acts as a forceful disincentive to possible hoarding activities. And, by cracking down on OMCs that fail to adhere to regulatory requirements, the government aims to maintain stability in the petroleum product market, ultimately benefiting the consumers who have been bearing the brunt of skyrocketing oil prices for a long time in the country.

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Ahmad Ahmadani
Ahmad Ahmadani
The author is a an investigative journalist at Profit. He can be reached at [email protected].


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