Supply running dry: Petrol shortage continues to frustrate consumers (Lahore city)

PHOTO: IJAZ MAHMOOD

LAHORE: Fuel consumers continued to face problems on Saturday as most filling stations in the city stopped sales after their stocks of petroleum products ran dry.

Citizens complained that they visited several gas stations in search of fuel but most of them were out of stock. Long queues of vehicles were witnessed at stations where fuel was available, according to motorists.

Mohsin, a motorist, told The Express Tribune that he visited two gas stations to get his car tank filled. He said the stations had also started rationing petroleum products.

Another consumer, Naveed Ahmad, said that as most gas stations had stopped sales, some unauthorised dealers in various areas of the city were selling petrol at an inflated price of Rs95-100 a litre. He added that the authorities should ensure smooth supply of petroleum products in all urban areas and curb the exploitation by the dealers.

Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association Lahore Chapter Vice President Chaudhry Nouman Majeed indicated that crude oil prices were showing an upward trend in the international market so major marketing companies had curtailed their orders. “The government revises petroleum products’ prices every fortnight but it avoided a hike because of the by-election in NA-120 constituency. Now the situation has started to worsen as complaints of petroleum products shortage are being heard across the province,” he maintained.

“I do not see any respite in petroleum products shortage in the coming week unless the government takes stern action against oil marketing companies,” he said.

He pointed out that except Pakistan State Oil (PSO) that had a 60-65% market share, all oil marketing companies had curtailed petrol supplies.

“If a gas station orders 20,000 litres of fuel from oil marketing company, it hardly gets 12,000 to 15,000 litres,” he said.

After the closure of most CNG stations in the city, petrol demand has swelled to three million litres per day, but right now gas stations are scarcely getting around 1.5 million litres, which is half of the demand in the city.

Talking about consumers’ agony, Majeed said that gas stations were selling the fuel for a meagre commission and it was the government’s responsibility to ensure smooth supply of the products to gas stations. He urged the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and the government to look into the situation before it worsens.

The northern part of the city started facing the shortage soon after Eidul Azha as the first petrol pump which ran out of fuel was in Dharampura. Later, right from Dharampura to Harbanspura, where petrol stations are few in number, people could be seen selling petrol in bottles on the Canal Road. Taking advantage of the situation, these temporary dealers started selling a one-litre bottle for up to Rs150.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2017.

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