Pakistan mulls oil import from Russia

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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Energy has asked industrial experts to provide analysis for importing oil from Russia, as the country seeks to procure the commodity at a cheaper rate amid a financial crunch.

Pakistan’s monthly fuel oil imports are set to hit a four-year high in June, Refinitiv data showed.

The country’s fuel oil imports could climb to about 700,000 tonnes this month, after hitting 630,000 tonnes in May, according to Refinitiv estimates. Imports last peaked at 680,000 tonnes in May 2018 and 741,000 tonnes in June 2017.

Speaking during a local TV programme, Minister of the State for Petroleum Musadik Malik had said that Pakistan was “open to the idea of importing cheap oil from Russia”.

He said that as against the PTI-led government’s claim in this regard, there were no official agreements between the two states regarding the import of cheap oil, however, a letter was sent to Russia by the previous government.

“Since coming to power, the coalition government has tried following up on the letter but has so far received no response from Russia,” he said.

The state minister added that if Russia was willing to sell oil to Pakistan at cheaper rates, the government would definitely consider the option but would “ensure striking deals which would not result in any types of international sanctions on Pakistan.”

On the other hand, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had earlier this month said that Western sanctions have made importing oil from Moscow impossible despite the Pakistani government’s request to buy wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

Miftah had also stated that Pakistan would surely consider if Russia offers oil trade at cheaper rates as there are no restrictions on buying the supply.

Former finance minister and senior PTI leader Shaukat Tarin also said that the coalition government “should have purchased cheap oil from Russia” as the previous Imran Khan-led government had already written a letter in this regard.