Ogra revitalises enforcement mechanism; launches inspections

ISLAMABAD (Staff Reporter): OGRA on Friday launched an aggressive inspection campaign to ensure implementation of its proactive enforcement regime in letter and spirit. Decision to thoroughly inspect the entire supply chain of petroleum products from storage capacity and stocks with the oil marketing companies to the retail outlets was taken during a two-day session of the Authority meeting. OGRA Chairman, Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad presided over the meeting. Member (Oil) Khusro Pervaiz Khan steered the brainstorming and Member (Gas) Aamir Naseem also endorsed immediate launching of a fresh inspection to ensure effective monitoring. Inspection would be carried out in a phased manner on continuous basis.

The first phase would cover Pujnab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including the federal capital envelop of the supply chain.

DGKC plans $300m cement plant

LAHORE (Online): Billionaire Mian Muhammad Mansha’s D.G. Khan Cement Ltd, Pakistan’s third-largest maker of the construction material, plans to build an $300 million plant near Karachi as economic growth boosts demand. “There will be a shortage domestically in three years if there is 10 per cent growth in demand each year,” Chief Financial Officer Inayat Ullah Niazi said in an interview to Bloomberg at the company’s headquarters in Lahore. The company’s two cement plants have operated near full capacity in the past two years. The company is building its first plant since 2007 to tap economic growth that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government forecasts will be the fastest in seven years, even as the nation grapples with an electricity supply crisis and terrorism. Pakistan’s output is projected to expand 4.3 percent in the year ending June 30 and 4.75 percent in the following fiscal year by the International Monetary Fund.

The new plant near Hub will produce about 2 to 2.5 million tons of cement a year, Niazi said. Construction is targeted for completion late in 2018. The plant will be financed 40 percent through internal cash and the rest through debt, Niazi said.

“Expansion means the company will enter the southern region of the country,” Tahir Abbas, an analyst at brokerage Arif Habib Ltd said by phone in Karachi. “This will impact the entire industry and could start a price war.”

Cement sales in Pakistan rose to a record 34.3 million tons in the year ended June 30, 2014, according to the cement manufacturers’ association. Sales are on track for another record this year.

D.G. Khan is spending $30 million to generate electricity from coal to run its plant in Punjab province to decrease reliance on natural gas. South Asia’s second-biggest economy is struggling to meet gas demand and plans to import liquified natural gas.

The company forecasts net income will rise 25 percent to rise to 7.5 billion rupees ($74 million) in the year ending June 30, Niazi said. Domestic sales with higher margins than exports will contribute to the projected gain. Net income was a record 5.99 billion rupees in the last fiscal year.

Hesco recovers Rs47.96m dues

HYDERABAD (APP): HESCO recovered Rs 47.965 million through raids conducted against defaulters in various regions of HESCO in 14 districts on Friday. Aside from this, it disconnected electricity supply to 960 defaulters in 70 villages and 76 tube wells over non-payments, said a statement issued here. The raids were carried out in different cities and villages including Qasimabad, Tando Allahyar, Thatta, Tando Adam, Latifabad, Sakrand, Sajawal, Badin and other areas in the above-mentioned districts. Spokesman of HESCO, Sadiq Kubar said while talking to APP that the raids were being carried out on daily basis and their reports were also issued accordingly.

The company launched a crackdown against defaulters to recover 100 per cent outstanding bills from them and also effect a control over electricity theft in the mentioned regions, he said.

Rains to benefit Rabi crops: PARC head

ISLAMABAD (INP): The ongoing rains would benefit all major and minor Rabi season crops including wheat, Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) said. The rains would benefit production of major Rabi crops including wheat, grams, mustard and barley, which were cultivated in different parts of the country, PARC Chairman, Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad said. However, the major benefit of this would go to the wheat crop all across the country, which has been in dire need of it for survival. “The current spell of rain is well aligned with wheat crop that has been in severe demand of water to gain strength, particularly in Punjab and Sindh provinces”, Dr. Iftikhar said.

The rainfall will sustain the much needed soil moisture in the root zone and would help the farmers saving their extra inputs in terms of watering the crop.

Dr. Iftikhar said that this timely rain would help increase the wheat yield by making the wheat grain healthy and big in size.

“This is the growth period of the grain and with the input of rains it would now grow properly and boost the overall production,” he said.

The PARC Chairman said that the wheat crop in the Potohar region which is mostly rain-fed area will get more benefits due to the current rains as this area is much dependent on this water.

He said that with the timely rains to the crops, there are expectations that the wheat crop would increase for not only catering to the domestic needs but the surplus could also be exported.

Oil prices ending week on steady note

LONDON (AFP): Oil prices steadied Friday, recovering from the previous day’s sell-off on official data showing US crude stockpiles at record highs amid a global supply glut. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in March, was flat at $51.16 a barrel compared with Thursday’s close.  Brent North Sea crude for April delivery rose 23 cents to stand at $60.44 a barrel in London midday deals. Traders sold off crude on Wednesday on forecasts of a huge jump in inventories. And they extended the losses Thursday after the Energy Information Administration announced a weekly surge in US commercial crude stockpiles to levels not seen since records began in 1982.

But Tony Nunan, risk manager at Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp., said despite inventories being at their highest level on record, and the increase being above anything analysts had expected, “the gain was a lot smaller than the number announced Wednesday by the (private) American Petroleum Institute in its weekly report.

“Traders are watching when the gap between oil production and (demand) will narrow,” he said.

Crude prices lost around 60 percent of their value to about $40 between June and late January owing to an oversupply in world markets, a weak global economy and a strong dollar that made oil expensive to purchase for holders of rival currencies.

And while they have been climbing in recent weeks on news that the number of US oil rigs in operation has fallen and energy giants are cutting back on investment, markets-watchers say volatility is likely to continue for some time.