Russian oil: Pakistan makes U-turn on discounted crude story

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Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Thursday that the country was not “pursuing or receiving” any discounted energy from Russia when speaking at a news conference in New York.

Contradicting his cabinet colleague, Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik on Friday, addressing a news conference in Islamabad, maintained that Pakistan was indeed pursuing Russian oil at discounted rates, Tribune reported.

“Russia would export petrol and diesel to Pakistan at the maximum possible discounted prices,” he added.

When asked about the foreign minister’s statement on the Russian energy, Malik said he could not listen to the news conference of Bilawal. However, he hurriedly added that Bilawal had merely said that Pakistan was not receiving energy from Russia.

“We lacked something that we should have given in detail to the Foreign Office,“ Malik said, adding that his ministry would clarify all misperceptions in this connection.

The state minister further said that the Pakistani ambassador in Moscow was also part of the negotiations with Russia on oil import. “This is a technical confusion, which we will address,” he informed the media.

Malik claimed that the visit to Russia had been “very positive” in connection with crude oil imports from that country. “There are eight types of crude oils in Russia, two of which can be refined in Pakistan,” he said.

He added that the Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) and Pak-Arab Refinery Company Limited (Parco) had expressed their willingness to refine the Russian crude oil.

The minister further said Pakistan would import Russian oil at discounted rates and that would reduce the cost of energy in the country. “Lower energy prices will reduce the cost of production, transportation and storage of everything, which will also bring down commodity prices,” he maintained.

A delegation of an inter-governmental commission headed by the Russian energy minister will visit Pakistan in the second week of January to finalise matters related to the import of crude oil, diesel and petrol. “The supply of oil from Russia will start early next year,” Malik said.