Oil marketing companies (OMCs) are eagerly anticipating the completion of new pipeline projects along with the upgrading of the existing pipelines to counter the tanker operators’ unnecessarily disruptive tactics, reported a national daily.
The tanker operators are allegedly delaying the oil supply to have their demands met. Once the pipelines become operational, the OMCs will have direct supply and, therefore, will be much less dependent on the tanker operators.
According to some estimates, for now, almost 60 percent of petroleum products are transported by approximately 12,000 oil tankers. In addition to the direct challenges that they pose to the OMCs, like pilferage and delayed deliveries, these tankers cause problems for the citizens as well, such as accidents and road congestion.
These tankers are also responsible for significant damage to the road infrastructure in Karachi. National Highway Authority (NHA) data shows an annual expenditure of Rs. 65 billion on roads.
An OMC official spoke to the media regarding this and said,
While further orders are awaited on the implementation of axle weight load policy that was suspended last October for one year, oil tankers continue to pose road safety hazards and degrade the country’s infrastructure.
Pakistan is the only country in the region where heavy traffic does not comply with axle load limits set by the government. Not only this, but Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) also estimated that 85 percent of these oil tankers are also non-compliant with the safety standards. The Ahmedpur East tanker explosion in 2017 is an example of this very violation.
The current demand for petroleum products in the country is around 24 million tons annually, and it is expected to go up in the coming years. OGRA’s annual “State of the Regulated Petroleum Industry” report projects that the CPEC, rising number of automobiles, and increased industry usage, as well as higher domestic consumption, will lead to a further increase in demand for petroleum products.
To ensure the supply of petroleum to meet this demand, the government has been working with the petroleum industry, including OMCs, to construct and operationalize new pipelines and upgrade existing ones.
One of these projects is the 362km Mahmoodkot-Faisalabad–Machhike (MFM) pipeline with an annual capacity of nearly 3.7 million tons. This project has, reportedly, already cut the tanker movement by about 4,000 oil tankers.