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Petroleum imports fall 33pc in March

Petroleum imports fall 33pc in March

ISLAMABAD: Imports of petroleum products dipped nearly 33 per cent year-on-year in March owing to the sharp reduction in demand for petroleum products as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

Preliminary estimates suggest petroleum consumption has fallen 60pc since the lockdown was enforced in the country and public and private transport came to a standstill.

Data compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed petroleum imports declined by 21.4pc in value during March despite increasing by 14.26pc in quantity.

Import of crude oil decreased 60pc to $136.99 million, as against $342.74m while the quantity also dipped 42pc.

Similarly, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports fell by 17.58pc to $177.97m during March, from $215.93m. This would have translated into relatively lower power production through LNG — a replacement for furnace oil.

On the other hand, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports jumped 19.3pc to $29.8m.

Total oil imports dipped by 32.86pc in March to $668.32m, from $995.42m in corresponding month last year.

Between July-March FY20, total oil imports fell 16.14pc to $8.9 billion during 9MFY20, from $10.6bn in the same period last year.

The PBS is yet to release March data for local ­production of petroleum but figures from the first eight months showed decrease in local production.

The fall in imports of crude oil also translated into lower ­production of petroleum products by local refineries.

Consequently, exports of petroleum products were down by 25.95pc on a year-on-year basis in March. Similarly, petroleum crude exports were down 10.39pc in value while export of petroleum products dipped 76.4pc.

In addition, export of petroleum top naphtha also declined 25.69pc in value during the month.

The dip in local production of petroleum products, and its exports from the country is likely to drag down economic growth as the oil import bill also witnessed a double-digit decline.

The PBS data for the first eight months of current fiscal year showed output of all 11 petroleum products was lower by 13.57pc than the same period last year. The production of two major oil products — petrol and high-speed diesel mostly used in the transport sector and agriculture — was down 10.6pc and 14.54pc respectively .

The production of furnace oil was also down by almost 14pc during the first eight months of the current fiscal year, compared to the same period last year, but this could be attributed to its declining share in power generation. Jet (airline) fuel output was down by 14.44pc and that of kerosene by 15.8pc.

The production of lubricating oil and jute batching oil was down 22.49pc and 12.22pc respectively during the eight months under review. LPG production and solvent naphtha in the first eight months dipped by 7.6pc and 13.55pc respectively.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2020

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