April 3, 2023
ISLAMABAD – Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik has said that the government will place its first order for Russian crude next month and it would take about four weeks for the commodity to reach Pakistan.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar last year had said that the country was considering buying discounted Russian oil, pointing out that neighbour India has been purchasing oil from Moscow and Islamabad also had a right to explore the possibility.
Subsequently, Malik had flown to Moscow for talks on issues including oil and gas supplies after which the government announced that it would purchase discounted crude oil, petrol, and diesel from Russia.
In January 2023, a Russian delegation arrived in Islamabad for talks to finalise the deal. During the three-day meeting, the countries decided to address all technical issues — insurance, transportation and payment mechanism — to sign an agreement by late March this year.
“After consensus on the technical specifications achieved, the oil and gas trade transaction will be structured in a way it has a mutual economic benefit for both countries,” a joint statement issued by the two sides had then stated.
In an interview on Geo News programme Jirga on Saturday night, Malik said that a number of agreements with Russia had been reached and Pakistan will place an order next month.
“However, it will take some time for the oil to reach Pakistan … nearly 26 to 27 days,” he stated, revealing that the commodity will arrive in the country via sea.
Malik also clarified that Russia had assured the government that it was giving Pakistan a discount as much as any other neighbouring country was receiving.
Talking about the government’s decision regarding separate gas tariffs for the rich and the poor, the minister said that the mechanism was devised on the orders of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
“So we divided the country into the population of the rich and the poor … so if a poor woman is using a unit of gas she will give one-fourth of the bills that a woman in F-7 or Gulberg is paying,” he said.
Malik explained that the distinction between the rich and the poor would be determined by the usage of gas — which remains the same for the rich but reduces for the poor in winter — from November to March.
“In Pakistan, 60 per cent of the population is poor and for them, we have either reduced the gas tariff or kept it the same as was in the past.”
The same, he went on to say, was the case with the petroleum subsidy. “Under it, the rich will pay Rs300 for petrol and the poor will pay Rs200 for the commodity.”