Petrol filling stations cannot stand the decrease in oil prices and are trying to pressurise the government into raising prices again. In Punjab, petrol pump owners have been keeping far less than the legally required 20 days’ worth of fuel in their inventories as they expected prices to drop further, resulting in a particularly fragile supply chain. There is no respite for the consumer, who has to pay high prices or not get fuel at all. The shortage of fuel in Punjab and KPK has literally brought daily life to a standstill, with people having to queue for hours for petrol and CNG. The global drop in oil prices should have been a boon for consumers but producers are unhappy to see falling profits. There has been a surge in domestic demand, as well as a high tide at Karachi Port preventing ships from unloading fuel imports. A truck crash outside Karachi, an unplanned shutdown at the country’s largest refinery, and the government-owned Pakistan State Oil running out of money has made matters worse.

The unplanned shutdown of the Pak Arab Refinery (Parco), the largest producer of refined petroleum products, for a few days due to power failure compounded the shortage. And then transporters in Karachi are saying that they have to be extra careful after the deadly accident involving an oil tanker in which 62 people were killed. Thus there are delays in shipment of petroleum products as they no longer want to take the risk with a spotlight on the fitness of tankers and conduct of drivers. Goes to show how reckless they were, if a nation's oil supply shuts down just because they have to drive safe. PSO, which has a 65% share in the Pakistani oil market, is defaulting on its debts to global oil supplies largely due to the inter-corporate circular debt that has financially crippled the energy sector. Just another day at a state owned enterprise.

Though supply will be restored by Sunday, this cannot keep happening. Petrol sales have touched 15,000 tons a day from around 11,000 tons a few months back, unanticipated by the petroleum ministry. The main cause has been that drivers who normally use CNG for fuel are shifting to petrol. Why this should be unanticipated is odd. Are our economic managers sleeping on the job? We are a nation that has no heating during a brutal winter, no gas, no hot water, no electricity and now no fuel. In other countries, rulers have to do things themselves to be cruel; in Pakistan, they just have to sit back and watch.