PSO downplays NATO jet fuel supply rumours

PSOKARACHI: Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has played down the impression in foreign media that it was going to import jet fuel from international sources to restore supply to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Afghanistan.

As the supply from one of the major refineries in the country is scheduled to be shut down for maintenance during the next few weeks, PSO was going to import the jet fuel in order meet the shortages and domestic demand. Foreign media recently peddled that the company was seeking jet fuel imports for the first time since November, in a sign that supplies to NATO in the neighbouring country Afghanistan might resume in the coming months. PSO through a floated tender was seeking one 25,000-tonne cargo of jet fuel each in April and May this year, with an option for taking an additional cargo in the May-June period.

The company had halted the fuel supply to the international organisation soon after the NATO’s air strike on Pakistani army personnel at Salala Check post in November last year following the closure of key supplies route to NATO forces. According to the report PSO usually buys one or two 200,000-barrel cargoes of aviation fuel each month in the international market and supplies three cargoes of jet fuel every two months to NATO forces, which are trucked to Afghanistan.

However, in reply to a numbers of queries forwarded by Profit, the official sources at PSO said, “The recent jet fuel tender floated by PSO pertains to only domestic use. One of the major refineries is scheduled for maintenance in the coming weeks. To ensure that there is no product shortage due to the maintenance and the shut down of the local refinery, PSO is seeking jet fuel from international sources. Therefore the assumption that the tender is for NATO forces is incorrect.” In reply to a query as to whether PSO was restoring the fuel supply to NATO, the country’s largest fuel retailer claimed, “It is the Government of Pakistan, which is the sole decision maker regarding restoration of product supply to Afghanistan.

PSO has no role in the decision making process and will comply with government’s decisions and policies”. The oil marketing company also played down the impression that it was earlier supplying the fuel to NATO saying that ”PSO only exports jet fuel to Afghanistan as a country not to any specific organisation.” To another question, they said POL supplies to Afghanistan were halted inline with the border closure imposed by Islamabad after the incident at Salala check post on November 26, 2011.