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Oct 01 - 07, 2001

Refineries raising storage capacity

All local refineries have geared up their efforts to increase the storage capacity of crude oil up to three weeks from two weeks as a precautionary measure to avert any crisis in the wake of possible US retaliation after the September 11 incident.

"Refineries usually maintain 15 days stocks but now they have started raising stocks capacity on the instructions of the petroleum ministry," a senior official in the National Refinery Limited told on Tuesday.

He said the refinery had received verbal instructions from the petroleum ministry to top up its stocks position of crude, besides beefing up strict checking at key installations.

The official said the refinery had increased the security, patrolling and presence of guards outside the refinery and other main installations.

NRL has the refining capacity of 65,000 barrel per day (about three million tons per annum) processing largely imported crude oil and producing entire range of fuel products lube base oils and asphalt. It has the storage capacity of 20 days for crude or 163,000 tons. The capacity for petroleum products is 90,000 tons both at Keamari and Korangi.

He said so far there had been no bottlenecks in the shipments of crude from Saudi Arabia and Iran as local refineries process 80 per cent of imported crude. The company, he added, has no immediate plans to go for a panic-buying as things are quite under control.

To a query whether the refineries are getting crude from foreign oil exploration companies operating in Pakistan, he said that there had been no interruption in supply of crude oil (mainly 15-20 per cent) from these companies despite the fact the foreigners have moved from Pakistan to other destinations.

Pakistan Refinery Limited has the gross storage capacity of crude of 183,000 tons or for 25 days and for petroleum products 90,000 tons both at Korangi and Keamari. The gross storage capacity of Attock Refinery Limited is about 51,000 tons or for 15 days and 70,000 tons for petroleum products.

Economy to get a boost, says Shaukat

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz has said the US move to lift sanctions against Pakistan "would help speed up economic activities and improve prospects of foreign investment in the country."

With the waiver of these sanctions, the United States could now vote in our support in the multilateral institutions like the World Bank, IMF and ADB and help facilitate American investment in Pakistan, he said.

The private sector could now secure soft-term credits from the Exim bank of America to import machinery and equipment from the United States, he added.

Meanwhile, two investment and export-import banks of United States operating overseas OPIC and EXIM Bank would be allowed to finance private sector projects in Pakistan as a result of the proposed waiver of US sanctions.

3m tons sugar output likely this year

Owing to reports of a bumper sugarcane crop this season, millers predict three million tons sugar production this year.

Apart from the higher price fixed by the government for cane, fairly plenty of rains induced growers to bring more land under sugarcane cultivation this season, which is higher by 1.13 million hectares or 12 per cent more than previous season when it was little less than one million hectares.

He said that a host of factors had contributed towards higher yield of cane this season, and the production would be sufficient to meet the domestic consumption demand of around three million tons of white sugar.

The country should harvest around 52 million tons of cane this season to make available around 35 million tons of cane to mills to produce little over three million tons of white sugar, he said.

Exploration activities affected

Exploration and development activities in the oil and gas sector have been affected following pullback of foreign technical staff in Pakistan by their parent organizations after September 11 incident.

"Production from the already developed oil and gas fields are continued uninterrupted," Secretary, Pakistan Petroleum Exploration and Production Companies Association (PPEPCA), Brig (Retd) Jamil Hassan told on Thursday from Islamabad.

"Majority of exploration and development activities, which also include seismic survey and drilling, have stopped now," he said, attributing the suspension of work to the return of foreigners experts on the advice of their organizations.

Hopes of better cotton crop

The current cotton crop has been estimated to produce about 10.9 million bales 'provided other factors remained constant' and the crop was not massively hit by pest. The estimate was made by the federal government's Crop Assessment Committee.

Plan to revive GIE units

The under execution provincial public sector Malakand-III hydro power project would help revive industrial units set up at the Gadoon Amanzai Industrial Estate (GIE), NWFP governor Syed Iftikhar Hussain said on Tuesday.

"We have plan to revive GIE units through Malakand-III hydro power project," said the governor while speaking to members of Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

SSGC to lay 45km long loopline

Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) has undertaken a loopline project of laying a 45 km long 20-24 inch diameter pipeline at Kathore about 35 km from Karachi.

Managing Director SSGC, Mukhtar Ahmed performed the ground breaking ceremony of the project designed to augment Karachi North West Gas Supply Pipeline, says an SSGC's press release.