Oil refineries have sent an SOS message to the government, requesting it to take measures for procurement of high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) to safeguard strategic assets of the country as power plants have stopped taking furnace oil supplies.

At the same time, the refineries are considering exporting furnace oil for which initial process has begun.

According to sources, independent power producers (IPPs) are keeping HSFO stocks below 30 days of requirement and storage capacity of all power plants is currently under-utilised.

In the SOS, the refineries warned the federal government that they were heading towards forced shutdown, which would also impact supplies of motor spirit (petrol), high-speed diesel and jet fuel to consumers.

“The situation of local refineries requires immediate action from the Ministry of Energy to compensate and accommodate, enabling the refineries to ensure refinery continuity. We reiterate that until and unless IPPs increase HSFO burning/ consumption, there is no way to keep up refinery operations,” said a letter sent by a refinery to the director general (oil) of the Petroleum Division. However, to the dismay of refineries, the export option is clearly not viable due to certain reasons such as port congestion.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2021.

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