The “Report of the inquiry commission on shortages of petroleum products in Pakistan” by the inquiry commission released yesterday (December 14) has uncovered several reasons for petroleum shortage that took place in Pakistan in June this year.
The report has revealed the names of incompetent or complicit officials and has also recommended strict action against Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). Departmental actions have also been suggested for the incumbent Director-General (Oil) of the Ministry of Energy Petroleum Division (MoEPD) and other officials. Other regulatory oversights have also been highlighted. ProPakistani has covered both these parts of the report in detail.
One more notable thing mentioned in the inquiry report is the suggestion of the establishment of a monitoring cell in the petroleum division. Another equally prudent suggestion made in the report is of an automated gauging system.
Regarding the monitoring cell, the commission recommended that MoEPD should establish a cell that collects all relevant data from Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) including import, local uplifting, daily and monthly sales, and refinery import and production programs etc. This collected data will have legal sanctity and the OMCs will also be held accountable in case they fudge numbers.
The automated gauging system might be even more effective in resolving the problems and shortcomings outlined by the report. The recommendation is that a system of digital sensors may be installed 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 ensure against dumping of any non-company products to any designated retail outlets.
Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Shell are already in the early stages of incorporating this system, and while it is more expensive than the routine gauging system, the report terms it “need of the hour”.
Once the OMCs are obligated to adopt this system, the Petroleum Division may then proceed to have a digital link with this system as well. In the long-run, this will prove to be a foolproof system of holding both MoEPD and OMCs accountable. It will also be useful in accurate audit at the end of the financial year and help in reducing huge tax leaks that reportedly exist in the oil industry. The menaces of smuggling and adulteration practices will both be brought to a halt once this system is fully installed and operational.