Bahawalpur tragedy: OGRA imposes a paltry Rs10m fine on oil firm

Published: July 7, 2017
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Burnt out cars and motorcycles are seen at the scene of an oil tanker explosion in Bahawalpur, Pakistan June 25, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Burnt out cars and motorcycles are seen at the scene of an oil tanker explosion in Bahawalpur, Pakistan June 25, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has held a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell responsible for the tanker explosion that killed more than 200 people near Bahawalpur last month.

According to a report prepared by the regulatory authority, the tanker carrying gasoline for Shell Pakistan Ltd (SPL) did not meet the set requirements. “Moreover, the fitness certificate issued to the tanker also turned out to be fake,” says the report.

More than 150 people were killed on June 25 after an overturned oil truck exploded in a huge fireball while it was surrounded by crowds scavenging for fuel in Ahmedpur East. The death toll has since crossed the 200 mark.

In the investigative report, Ogra held the private company responsible for the incident, but ordered it to pay a meager Rs10 million as penalty.

In addition, the regulator ordered the company to pay Rs1 million in compensation to the families of each of those killed and Rs500,000 for each person injured.

In its findings, the report describes that the main accident i.e. rolling over of the tanker off the road and subsequent spillage of petrol is clearly attributed to non-professional driving.

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“Outbreak of fire is attributed to lack or delayed response of the local administration and Motorway Police to cordon off the area for restricting the approach and gathering of the general public at the site of the accident.

“The lack of awareness to the general public for staying away from the site of such accident can possibly cause the explosion, leading to a national tragedy.”

The report states that such accidents can be mitigated through safety standards and this specific accident could have been avoided if the lorry was compliant to the applicable safety laws and rules.

The investigators have found that the tank lorry, TLJ 352, was hired by the SPL from its haulier, Marwat Enterprises, which has been found to be non-compliant with the Pakistan Petroleum Rules 1937.

The Ogra report says, “Since the tank lorry was found to not have CIE license, it is regarded as non-complaint with the rules. As per NHSO-2000 requirement, 50,000L tank lorry must have 5-6 axles but the said tank lorry had 4 axles.

“Although, the SPL has provided a certificate of fitness by the Motor Vehicle Examiner issued under Quetta. However, the same is [found to be] fake as confirmed by the Chief Minister Investigation Team (CMIT), Punjab.

“The SPL has failed to provide the preload checklist of their own company. Instead, they have submitted their haulier’s i.e. Marwat Enterprises checklist (Annexure-IX). If the same was in place or exercised/monitored in actual, the said lorry could have been denied for loading the product by the SPL.”

It further states that the SPL has failed to provide its own ERP and submitted the ERP of its haulier i.e. Marwat Enterprises (Annexure-X). “This shows the SPL’s entire dependence on the ERP of its haulier, which is very casual attitude of the company of the caliber of SPL to handle the emergency at the time of spill etc, and the same is therefore, not acceptable.

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“As per Rule 69 of the Pakistan Oil (Refining, Blending, Transportation, Storage and Marketing) Rules, 2016, a person, who contravenes any provisions of the ordinance, these rules, terms and conditions of the licence, or the decisions of the authority, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to ten million rupees and in case of a continuing contravention with a further fine which may extend to one million rupees for every day during which such contravention continues.”

The report concludes that the authority has decided to impose a penalty of Rs10 million on the SPL which shall be deposited by the company within three working days of the receipt of this order.

“SPL shall comply with the decision, failing which the authority would be constrained to initiate proceeding against the company to impose further penalty or any other strict action under the law/rules inter alia including suspension of the marketing activity.”

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Baligur
    Jul 7, 2017 - 1:25PM

    They will appeal and this will carry on in the courts for the next 50 years.

    If the government really wants to compensate the families of the victims it should do so with its own funds.Recommend

  • Thinkker
    Jul 7, 2017 - 2:36PM

    Why Shell would pay? Where was highway police? where fire brigate etc?It was due to a tyre puncture and thus vehicle lost its balance, it can happen with any vehicle. It was also the mistake of villagers who rushed the oil tanker to collect petrol, as it was a Langgar for them.Recommend

  • Ayesha Ahmed
    Jul 7, 2017 - 2:52PM

    Appreciate the government’s effort to bring the real culprit to limelight. 217 Pakistanis are martyred because of there oil tanker, the 271 people who would be alive had there been no Shell co.Recommend

  • jun
    Jul 7, 2017 - 3:07PM

    Normally.noone risks live just to collect spilled oil.Simply means that people are so poor and desperate for fuel.Present govt is more responsible.The daily tragedies on roads,corrupt departments equally responsible.Recommend

  • k
    Jul 7, 2017 - 3:14PM

    yes why not, we all know that Government Authorities do only one thing, Blame Private entities, what were all safety, Road, Police departments were doing? whay not charge all of them?Recommend

  • Irfan_Sydney
    Jul 7, 2017 - 3:15PM

    Shell oil will have to pay everyone who tried but failed to steal their oil.Recommend

  • Sensible
    Jul 7, 2017 - 3:29PM

    How is it not Shell’s fault ?? Arent they supposed to maintain standards of their vehicles transporting such flammable substance?? Wouldnt such incidents in 99% cases result in fire whatever the cause may be ??

    What would you say if you were involved in such a tragedy? Such brainwashed people!Recommend

  • Chachu-undercover.
    Jul 7, 2017 - 4:40PM

    All those people who are asking whats the fault of shell….that tanker was supposed to be 22 wheeler instead of 14 wheeler.Recommend

  • Solomon2
    Jul 7, 2017 - 6:49PM

    @Irfan_Sydney: it’s a penalty. There’s no indication any of this money will go to the victims. Recommend

  • Shah S
    Jul 7, 2017 - 8:32PM

    @Baligur: WHY??? For those people who were supposed to be fasting and then above all, Stealing material which does not belong to them; Compensation for what ?? Stealing ??? Recommend

  • k
    Jul 7, 2017 - 10:45PM

    All the people blaming shell for that truck should know, SHELL IS NOT TRANSPORTING OIL, A PAKISTANI COMPANY HAS A CONTRACT FOR THIS.Recommend

  • majid udhi
    Jul 8, 2017 - 6:09AM

    The amount of compensation of US$2,400,000 xRs.100= Rs240,000,000/- to disburse among 200 now 201 death on a/c oil tanker fire whose certificate was also not genuine, this must be in the knowledge of shell company or ogra, they know pakistan working. The amount far less against what Fertiser company had to pay compensation in Bhopal India about 25 years back when Rupee value and economic far better than today & working was also far better, that company paid compensation bec of carbon leaks whereby many Bhopali workers living nearby fertilizer factory in Bhopar became blind. Unable to work receiving far more than man who died may be the only person livelyhood earning for whole family fm 3 to 6. They must recv more compensation, atleast Rs.25,00,000/= (twenty five lacs v/s12 lacs)Recommend

  • MAS
    Jul 9, 2017 - 2:00AM

    instead of penalizing the deceased thieves or issuing notice to the families our govt imposed a fine on the oil company.Recommend

  • Clayton
    Jul 9, 2017 - 1:30PM

    Compensation for stealing? Shell should be fined for improper tanker, but in no way is shell responsible for 200 lives who were stealing from Shell.Recommend

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