Oil supply for the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan is expected to resume through Pakistan’s land routes by the end of this month following a year-long break and a test run conducted last week.
The first two oil tankers carrying ‘Jet Propellant 8’ (JP-8) fuel for Nato forces successfully reached Kabul after crossing the treacherous Torkham border last week.
The tankers that successfully crossed the Pakistani border last week belonged to Mengal Brothers Transport (MBT) Pvt Ltd, one of the major contractors in the Nato oil supply chain, with over 1,200 oil tankers in its fleet.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Qayyum Khan, MBT’s General Manager, said the two oil tankers were a part of the test drive which they are conducting to assess the road-safety and problems relating to the route, including the possible threats they may face when full-fledged supply resumes.
“The two oil tankers sent for the test drive have successfully crossed the border; upon their return we will assess the routes, possible threats to the vehicles and the time period of the trip which includes the travelling time as well as time consumed by the clearance of documentation,” said Khan.
The test tankers bound for Kabul were sent to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) for loading in September and received a route permit on November 1. Meanwhile, another four test tankers have also been sent for loading.
Director General at MBT, Wajid Ali, said that they were asked by PSO to begin loading, adding that PSO is their main supplier and that they will start the operation when they receive the go-ahead from the PSO. However, MBT has not yet inked any new agreement with PSO regarding an increase in freight charges or other commissions.
Ali said the supply is expected to resume by the end of this month. “We are holding meetings with Pakistan Rangers officials, who will provide us with security for our vehicles within the city and we will have to inform the Rangers when our vehicles are leaving the oil areas.”
He said that this time when the supply is back on track they will have strict rules for the truckers regarding the fuel theft and other irregularities in the product that comes from the truckers’ side.
Pakistan closed its land routes to Nato supply last year in November in response to a Nato air strike on Salala check post in November which killed 25 Pakistani troops.
Following eight months of closure, Pakistan announced that it would reopen its land routes for the Nato supply this year in July after an official apology came from the United States on the Salala incident. By this time, only the logistical supply resumed, while the oil supply remained halted. Officials cited multiple reasons including security issues faced by drivers and oil tankers on the route through Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2012.