ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has stepped in to settle the dispute between Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) over the provision of vessels for oil import and allowed the former to bring petrol and diesel by inviting bids from shipping lines for the next three months.
According to officials aware of the development, the prime minister in a meeting on Wednesday directed that PNSC would only provide vessels for furnace oil import whereas PSO would import petrol, diesel and other petroleum products on a cost and freight basis.
The directives came in a bid to resolve a longstanding row and stave off the threat of oil shortage, like the one the country experienced in early January this year.
“The decision has been taken following delay on the part of PNSC in making available ships for bringing petroleum products,” an official said. “Now, PSO will be able to hire vessels at competitive rates by seeking bids from different shipping lines.”
According to an official of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the dearth of petrol early this year was the result of late arrival of PNSC vessels for loading and transporting the imported cargo.
Since January 2014, according to ministry officials, PNSC has delayed the provision of 77 vessels to PSO, which is a breach of timelines outlined in the Contract of Affreightment between the two state-owned companies and has caused losses to the national coffer.
In May, vessels were not provided for loading petrol from May 5-7 and from May 7-9. Another vessel required for loading high sulphur fuel oil on May 20-22 was also not available, sparking fears of electricity shortage.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2015.
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