Energy security means ensuring the uninterrupted availability of various energy sources at aﬀordable rates. It has various facets including the long-term planning for meeting the development needs of the country and at the same time ensuring the resilience of the domestic supply chain to adjust to unforeseen circumstances especially the fluctuations in demand and supply.
Pakistan has too often struggled in this regard. The various crises experienced over time, whether it is the electricity and gas shortages or the petrol pumps running dry, are nothing but wake up calls pointing to the vulnerabilities in our energy security paradigm. Such episodes not only impede the progress of the country but also aﬀect the daily lives of the citizens.
The petrol crisis witnessed during June 2020, which was the second in a little over five years, not only underscored the fragility of the oil supply chain in the country but more importantly highlighted lapses in managing the situation on part of those who had been entrusted with this task. It was at the same time regrettable that instead of looking for mistakes and fixing them to avoid its recurrence in the future, a blame game and search for a scapegoat started.
The government’s intention to conduct an inquiry into the petrol shortage is welcome. It is expected that the probe committee will look at the various dimensions of the crisis objectively, neutrally, and dispassionately so that the right conclusions could be reached and course correction could be undertaken.
This report by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) is an attempt to analyze data and trends in Pakistan’s downstream oil sector to explore the cause of the crisis. It also recommends actions to prevent similar crises from happening again.
We believe that a better understanding of the root cause of the latest crisis would support informed choices among the many policy options available to address the problems in the downstream oil sector. Successful outcomes from the policy debates are crucial for a better future of the country.
Syed Muhammad Sajjad Shabbir
Islamabad Policy Institute
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