Former energy minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Hammad Azhar has urged the incumbent government to purchase oil and LNG from Russia at discounted rates.
Talking to a private channel, Azhar said the PTI government had been in talks with Moscow over purchase of oil products before the government changed hands after the no-confidence vote.
“In the month of March and April, we initiated talks with Russia over the purchase of oil and gas at cheaper rates. I also wrote a letter to the Russian Energy Minister in this regard, and we started preparing a transaction structure.
“But I have to say, with regret, that the present government ended the talks,” said Azhar.
Who is buying Russian crude oil and who has stopped
The minister added that the world is purchasing oil from Russia at cheaper prices.
“If we purchase oil from Russia, this would provide relief to the public and will be beneficial for our industries affiliated with it,” he said.
Earlier, the minister, in a tweet post, shared an infographic of energy products countries are purchasing from Russia.
“As energy minister, I had formally initiated talks with energy ministry of Russia for purchase of discounted oil (30% less than international market) and LNG.
His remarks come as oil prices continue to trade above $100 per barrel, putting a strain on finances of oil-importing countries like Pakistan.
On Thursday, Brent crude futures had climbed 60 cents, or 0.5%, to $110.74 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 40 cents, or 0.4%, to $108.21 a barrel.
Pakistan oil imports have witnessed a significant surge in recent months, owing to its rise in the international market. Import of the overall petroleum group witnessed an increase of 96.09% during the first nine months of the current fiscal year (2021-22) as compared to the corresponding period last year.
Pakistan’s current account deficit clocks in at $1.03bn in March
During the period under review, the total imports of the petroleum group stood at $14.812 billion, as against the imports of $7.553 billion last year, according to the latest data issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). Among petroleum commodities, import rose by 111.45%, from $3.447 billion last year to $7.289 billion, during the period under review.
The widening of the import bill has added to the pressure on the external front as the country struggles to increase its foreign exchange reserves.
Islamabad has set its eyes on a successful revival of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Extended Fund Facility, which would pave way for an inflow of $900 million.