ISLAMABAD - The government is all set to appoint permanent heads of state owned oil and gas companies including Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Pakistan Petroleum Limited by end of December 2014, where acting heads are performing their duties on adhoc basis.

Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources Abid Saeed said this while briefing Senate Standing Committee on Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources on Friday.

The committee meeting under the chair of Senator Mohammad Yousaf was called to get a briefing by FIA on reported allegations that Prime Minister has granted permission to arrest present and former officers of PSO, for causing Rs10 billion loss to the company by buying substandard furnace oil. The government steps to implement committee recommendations regarding appointment of MD PSO were also on the agenda of the committee.

FIA officials informed the committee that the agency received complaints against four persons from Prime Minister Office in 2013, accusing four senior officials of PSO allowed import of substandard furnace oil. Moreover, Rs 650 million were spent by the PSO officials on foreign trips and oil supply contact was given to Pakistan National Shipping Corporation without issuing tender.

They said that along with PSO staff former petroleum ministry top official Dr Asim was also under investigation.

The officials stated that adulteration in furnace oil content and stealthy move by the MD PSO, Amjad Pervaiz to help Byco to take over operations of Asia petroleum were also under investigation. Abdul Rauf Sheikh, Inspector FIA stated that 60,000 tons of furnace oil was imported from Malaysia worth Rs 4.5 billion through MT Balochstian ship, on checking of the oil quality it was found that it was not at part with the set standards.

Chairman committee inquired that why the import of substandard furnace oil was allowed, which resulted in billions of rupee losses to national kitty and why the quality of the commodity was not checked at the time of purchase?

The officials said that some black sheep have changed the good quality furnace oil with substandard quality while the ship on the way to Pakistan and investigation has been started. The committee directed the FIA officials to present all the details of their finding before the committee as early as possible on the scandal of money embezzlement. The federal agency pleaded for a two months time.

During the proceedings it was reveled that MD PSO was appointed for three months but since then he is enjoying extensions. For the appointment of MD PSO, ministry of petroleum moved a summary to PM Secretariat on 23 July 2013, which was approved on July 26, 2013, said Joint Secretary Establishment. He said that the initial appointment was for three months but later they received extension orders from PM Secretariat on April 11 2014, he said adding, the appointment was till further orders. NAB authorities, while briefing the committee said that currently three cases regarding PSO were under investigation with the agency in Sindh and Balochsitan provinces. The agency is investigating sale/purchase of a plot in Karachi worth Rs 28.5 million, oil theft of 2258 tons from Muzafargarh District and oil supply to Afghanistan via Quetta-Chaman border where irregularities were reported.