New Delhi: Soon after removing restrictions on import of goods from India, Pakistan has sought immediate supplies of petrol from the country to meet widening deficit.
"I discussed importing petrol from India during talks with Petroleum Secretary G C Chaturvedi here," Pakistan Secretary for Petroleum and Natural Resources Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry said on the sidelines of the 7th Asia Gas Partnership Summit here.
Pakistan, which has shortage of fuel, is looking at starting petrol imports from India using tankers as early as next month but issues of quality and specification need to be sorted out before that.
New Delhi has agreed, in-principle, to supply fuel to Pakistan from Bhatinda, where Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd is about to commission a refinery. Also, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has a fuel depot at Bhatinda which can supply petrol and other products to Pakistan.
Pakistan, Chaudhry said, was keen on importing other fuels as well but for the time being it has requirement of only petrol.
Officials of the two countries will meet next month to finalise modalities. The biggest hurdle is the fuel specification – while Pakistan sells Euro-II grade fuel, Indian refineries produce petrol and diesel meeting Euro-III & IV standards.
Chaudhry said Pakistan will call on India if it needs diesel and jet fuel in future. "When we need jet fuel or diesel, our first port of call will be India."
While the fuel exports, to begin with, will be through tankers, a dedicated pipeline may be built in future. Recently, Pakistan liberalised imports, lifting restrictions on all but 1,200 products. It is also expected to give India the Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) trade status that would help normalise trade by ending huge restriction. India gave MFN status to Pakistan in 1996.