The All Pakistan Tankers Association has announced a countrywide strike against the newly revised safety regulations for oil tankers.
Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had announced the new regulations after 12 oil tanker accidents occurred during the past two months and caused the deaths of over 200 people.
After the incidents, Motorway Police had begun strict implementation of OGRA’s regulations which created a lot of worries for oil tanker owners.
Oil Tanker Compliance With OGRA Regulations
Several days ago, OGRA had released an estimate that around 85% of oil tankers do not comply with the prescribed safety standards and Shell Pakistan was fined after an inquiry into the Ahmedpur Sharqia incident.
Following the unfortunate accidents that took the lives of 218 people, OGRA hired two third-party companies to inspect whether the oil market companies (OMC) were complying with OGRA’s technical regulations (published in 2009) for petrol transportation and the causes behind the Ahmedpur accident.
Sources have revealed that the oil tanker which took so many lives did not even meet Shell’s own standards let alone the ones set by OGRA in 2009.
Now the oil industry has started lobbying against disciplinary action regarding the poor compliance for safety standards. The companies want a grace period of two years to allow tankers to meet the revised regulatory standards. There have been strong signals from the industry suggesting extreme steps like ban on non-compliant oil tankers ‘might lead to product dry-outs’.
Oil Tankers Association’s Argument
Shams Shahwani, Chairman All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owner Association, claims that Motorway and traffic police create hurdles or them in the name of OGRA safety regulations even when their tankers in compliance. He says that OGRA wants every tanker to receive Rs. 1 million worth of upgrades in the name of safety regulations.
“Strike will go for an indefinite period until the strict policies of the government are not reviewed,” Shahwani added.
Tank owners also want OGRA to ensure that oil companies pay them on time so that they can improve their safety standards.
Countrywide Situation of Oil
Following the strike, supply of petroleum products will be affected. Under normal circumstances nearly 85,000 oil tankers supply fuel to different parts of the country. With the strike, oil supplies should run out in a few days. PSO spokesperson, however, has said that oil supply will continue as usual.
The same has also been reiterated by Abdul Sami Khan of the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association. He claims the oil stations have plenty of reserves all around the country.
Earlier this year, oil tanker owners boycotted against general sales tax and caused a great deal of inconvenience to the public, resulting in long queues of cars and bikes outside petrol stations.