People of Pakistan often see rise in petroleum prices in Pakistan. It is inconvenient for many as Pakistan’s economy is already struggling, and this also includes individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. However, there have been various reasons for the price hikes, one being petrol shortage.
There has been an enquiry into the petrol shortage that we saw in Pakistan in June this year. The inquiry commission released the “Report of the inquiry commission on shortages of petroleum products in Pakistan” on December 14th, 2020. It uncovers multiple reasons of the above mentioned petroleum shortage.
This said report has not only revealed names of incompetent officials but has also recommended strict action against Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). One of the mentioned official is the current Director-General (Oil) of the Ministry of Energy Petroleum Division (MoEPD). Strict action against other officials of this ministry has also been stressed upon. The report also highlights regulatory oversights that played a role in the petroleum shortage.
Suggestion of a Monitoring Cell
The inquiry report suggests that a monitoring cell should be established in the petroleum division. The commission recommended that Ministry of Energy Petroleum Division (MoEPD) should establish a cell that collects data from Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) including import, daily and monthly sales, local uplifting, refinery imports, production programs, etc. This data will have legal inviolability and these companies will be held accountable in case of any problem is found in their side.
Suggestion of an Automated Gauging System
The problems highlighted by the inquiry report can best be solved by an even more efficient system like the automated gauging system. This will work by installing a system of digital sensors starting from decanting storages at ports to 24 geographical location depots of different OMCs, to 9,000 more retail outlets across the country. This will also make sure that no non-company products are dumped at any designated retail outlets.
Shell and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) have already initiated the process of adopting this system. Even though this system is more costly than the routine gauging system, the report has labelled it as “need of the hour”.
When the Oil Marketing Companies are under an obligation to adopt this system, the Petrol Division may then proceed to establish a digital link with this system as well. This is aimed at making sure there is a fool proof system in place that can help hold MoEPD and OMCs accountable. This will also help in the annual auditing and the reduction in huge tax leaks that are said to exist in the oil industry.
This proposed system can be of great use. It will help clear the evils from the petroleum industry at a large scale.