Islamabad: The Pakistan government is considering a proposal to meet its needs for diesel and furnace oil from India as imports from the neighbouring country will cost 30 percent less than those from Gulf countries, a media report said on Saturday.
"We are in deficit and will take up the issue of diesel and furnace oil import with an Indian team scheduled to meet with us in Islamabad on Monday," Petroleum Minister Asim Hussain said.
Hussain said Pakistan is a major importer of diesel and furnace oil and the two products could be purchased from India at cheaper rates. "We are interested in fulfilling our total requirements of diesel and furnace oil through imports from India," he said.
"Indian oil products will be 30 percent cheaper than those from Gulf countries," said an unnamed official of the Petroleum and Natural Resources Ministry. The government is also discussing proposals to import 200 million cubic feet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a day and 500 MW of electricity from India, the report said.
A plan to import oil, LNG and electricity from India is being discussed after the federal cabinet decided in principle to grant Most Favoured Nation-status to the neighbouring country.
Pakistan's total diesel consumption is 6.9 million tonnes a year and domestic refineries produce 3.2 to 3.4 million tonnes while the remaining quantity is imported. Furnace oil demand stands at about nine million tonnes, of which refineries produce about 2.5 million tonnes while the rest is imported.
Consumption of furnace oil is expected to surge to 16 million tons by 2015-16 because of new power projects.    Hussain said Pakistan was also discussing the option of gas imports from India.
The daily quoted its sources as saying that Pakistan will prefer Indian LNG compared to imports from Qatar and other countries because New Delhi will ensure swift supply due to the proximity of the countries.
The Petroleum Ministry official dispelled the perception that Pakistan would import only five to 10 percent of its oil needs from India. "If we get 30 percent cheaper petroleum products, why shouldn't we meet total import needs of diesel and furnace oil from India," he asked.
The official said the government, encouraged by the prospect of a quick start to the project, was mulling the import of 200 million cubic feet of LNG a day from India. "If we import LNG from Qatar, it will take three years to make first purchases while import from India can be possible within a short span of six to eight months," he said.
According to the official, a plan was being studied to ship imported Indian LNG through bowsers and tankers via land route to consumers of Punjab, which has been hit the hardest by a gas shortage.
A plan to import 500 MW of electricity from India will be discussed in talks with India. The power crisis has badly shaken the country and the ruling Pakistan People's Party is desperately pursuing different plans to tackle the problem to avoid the wrath of people before the general election scheduled for next year, the report said.


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