New Delhi: Pakistan on Tuesday said it is willing to import diesel and jet fuel from India if the fuel is offered a "right price", but did not say if it will lift ban on movement of fuel from across the border. "We need to know the price if good price is given, why not," visiting Pakistan s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Asim Hussain on the sidelines of the Petrotech 2012 Conference here. "If right prices are given, we have no problems importing."
While Pakistan has removed fuel imports from its list of items that are not allowed to be imported from India, it allows import of diesel and jet fuel only in ships. India, which has refineries across the border, are keen to take the road route to the reach the fuel-deficient Pakistan "I think a way could be found as import of products is not banned as such," the Minister said.
He said a team of Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd officials will soon visit Pakistan to discuss prices. Pakistan has during recent times liberalised its trade with India. This year, it changed the structure of the list of items that can be traded between the two countries.
While Pakistan has removed fuel imports from its list of items that are not allowed to be imported from India, it allows import of diesel and jet fuel only in ships.
Earlier, there was a 'positive list' that listed items that could be traded. This restricted trade to only some items. Now, it has moved a new 'negative list' which specifically identifies productions that cannot be traded, leaving room open for many more items to be traded. Islamabad has also in-principle agreed to grant India the 'most favoured nation' status over 15 years after it was given the same status by India.
HPCL, which has a refinery in joint venture with Mittal Investment at Bhatinda, is willing to export fuel to Pakistan if the borders are opened. Also, HPCL feels Pakistan is demanding "impractically" low prices. Pakistan imports 4-5 million tonnes of diesel from Kuwait every year. It has preferred the fellow Islamic nation over India as it gets a substantial discount as well as an extended credit period to make payments.
Hussain said that if prices can be agreed upon, Pakistan can import petroleum fuels from India both through pipelines and sea routes. If Pakistan agreed for fuel imports, India had planned to lay a 200 km pipeline from Bathinda in Punjab to Lahore in Pakistan to move fuel.
India has surplus refining capacity and is a major exporter of oil products while Pakistan meets most of its needs through imports from West Asian countries. The Pakistan minister also said the country will offer 60 on land oil and gas exploration blocks for bidding in the next two months, and will discuss with his India counterpart possibilities of offering some of the blocks to India companies on a bilateral basis.