MUZAFFARGARH - Pak-Arab Refinery Company (Parco) has stopped jet fuel supply to Pakistan State Oil (PSO), raising the spectre of a fuel crisis on airports of Punjab in the next few days.

“Though Parco Mehmood Kot (Muzaffargarh)has shut down for annual maintenance, it has a stock of jet fuel which it is refusing to supply to PSO,” an official of PARCO disclosed here on Thursday, quoting a letter written to PSO by PARCO management which was later referred to Petroleum Secretary Ijaz Chaudhry. In the letter sent on March 19, PSO warned that if the current situation persisted, Punjab airports would have no fuel in the next two days.

PSO, a public sector company which supplies fuel to different sectors, asked the secretary to intervene and get jet fuel supply restored. “At present, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad airports are facing fuel shortage because of suspension of oil supply,” the ministry official said. A Parco official said the company had stock at hand and would release it shortly. “We are supplying oil according to the business requirements of our customers. The annual shutdown was planned and the petroleum ministry and oil companies had been taken into confidence,” he said.

Parco is a joint venture between Pakistan and Abu Dhabi with 60% and 40% stakes respectively. Though the government of Pakistan is a major shareholder in the company, the Abu Dhabi government has exercised control over it. According to the ministry official, Parco closed for annual maintenance on March 15 and had stock of 9,000 tons of jet fuel.

“Parco had committed to providing jet fuel by the first week of April to meet the needs of airports in Punjab, but it stopped supply and demanded payment of dues,” the official said. According to estimates, PSO has to pay Rs30.2 billion to Parco.

A PSO official told that the company had placed an import order for 25,000 tons of jet fuel, which would arrive on April 2. In February, it had also imported 25,000 tons. “Export of jet fuel to Afghanistan has also been suspended and we have consumed the whole quantity of imported fuel to meet domestic needs,” the official said.

“We are keeping a stock of petrol and high-speed diesel through imports, but there are problems in case of jet fuel for Punjab airports due to suspension of supply by Parco,” the official said.

PSO meets requirements of Karachi airport with the help of imports. On Tuesday, the government released Rs5 billion to PSO. On March 21, PSO had to receive Rs176 billion from its clients, and was to pay Rs163 billion to domestic and international fuel suppliers.