Maintaining oil prices for the second consecutive fortnight could harm the oil industry and disrupt petroleum products supply. The oil industry claims that it has suffered a loss of over Rs7 billion due to the government’s plan to keep oil prices artificially low.
The nation’s oil industry protested against the government’s “manipulation” of the pricing system in its most recent fortnightly review to keep ex-depot petroleum product prices the same for the next 15 days.
“This forced stabilisation of oil prices at the cost of the industry is not sustainable and will severely impact the already crippled oil industry,” wrote the Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) — an umbrella organisation of more than three dozen oil marketing companies (OMCs) and refineries — to the Ministry of Energy on Wednesday.
Following political pressure from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the government declared on Tuesday that all product prices will remain unchanged. However, market participants, including Ogra, had predicted hikes in POL prices beginning on November 16.
The oil sector claimed that the government was maintaining the rates in defiance of the long-standing pricing system. Over the next 15 days, the oil industry is expected to lose more than Rs7.6 billion as a result of the unilateral shift in pricing.
According to the OCAC, the price freeze would result in losses for OMCs of Rs8.34 on each litre of petrol and Rs7.15 on each litre of high-speed diesel (HSD), totaling Rs7.55 billion.
Even though the rates were rising in accordance with the pricing methodology set by the government itself, it claimed that the prices of motor fuels had remained the same for the second fortnight of November. Instead of passing on the increase or absorbing the increase by lowering the petroleum levy, it was claimed that the price components were “very forcefully and unjustly reduced.”
“The industry is already facing a severe financial crunch due to high global prices, depreciation of the rupee, increased charges on confirmation of letters of credit, high premiums on import, etc and will not be able to survive if these unfair adjustments are not removed immediately”, the OCAC wrote to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and the Petroleum Division.
According to Dawn, inland freight equalisation margin (IFEM), a collection of transportation fees paid to OMCs, was decreased by Rs3.21 and Rs2.72 per litre on petrol and HSD, respectively, according to the OCAC. According to sources, the Ministry of Finance called the senior Ogra officials on Tuesday night to make these cuts.
On gasoline and HSD, respectively, the exchange loss adjustment was also decreased by Rs3.01 and Rs2.11 per litre. Additionally, the long-awaited increase of OMC’s sales margins from Rs2.68 to Rs6 per litre was approved by the ECC on October 31. With another loss of Rs2.32 per litre on both products, the “revised margin for both products has not been incorporated in the prices.”
Based on estimated sales volumes for the second fortnight of November from Ogra, the OCAC estimated a total loss of Rs7.55 billion, including Rs4.25 billion for petrol and Rs3.30 billion for HSD.
The “forced price stabilization” could pose problems for the supply chain and jeopardise the industry’s survival, according to the OCAC, given the lower stock levels and higher import volume requirements.
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