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Pakistan to Get $275m Oil per Month from Saudi Arabia on Deferred Payments from July for Three Years

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Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Wednesday announced that the delayed $3.2 billion Saudi oil and gas facility on deferred payments would become operational from July – a move likely to partially relieve pressure on external sector payments.

Shaikh in a tweet said the Saudi Arabia was activating the deferred payment for petroleum products facility of $275 million per month amounting to $3.2 billion per year for three years from July 1.

This will strengthen Pakistan’s balance of payments position,” he said, thanking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his continuous support to the people of Pakistan.

The Express Tribune reported that the two countries had inked a financing agreement for the import of petroleum products, crude oil and LNG on February 17 during the Saudi crown prince’s Islamabad visit. The oil facility had been announced in November and it was initially expected to become operational from January 1st of this year.

However, due to various procedural and regulatory issues, it will take seven months to make the facility operational by July 1, which coincides with the start of new fiscal year.

Riyadh did not want the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP) to be involved in the testing of petroleum products to be imported from the Kingdom under the deferred payment facility, according to a story published in The Express Tribune.

Under the agreement, the Pak-Arab Refinery Company (Parco) and the National Refinery Limited (NRL) would procure crude oil from the Saudi Aramco Product Trading Company.  Similarly, the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and the Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL) would procure petroleum products and LNG from the Saudi company respectively.

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The HDIP laboratory tests products at the discharge port prior to unloading. However, while negotiating the terms and conditions of the sales purchase agreement with the PSO, Saudi Aramco insisted that the procurement should be based on the cost, insurance and freight (CFR/CIF)) terms in line with the International Chamber of Commerce’s Incoterms 2000. Under these terms, the quality would be determined and finalised at the load port based on the test results of an independent laboratory

Pakistan expects the Saudi facility to help ease pressure on the balance of payments. The UAE had also indicated giving similar oil facility but it subsequently refused to provide oil on deferred payments.

A $3.2 billion oil facility was part of the $6.2 billion that the UAE had announced to give to Pakistan in December to help the country passing through difficult economic times.

The UAE has already transferred $2 billion cash into the coffers of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and another $1 billion are yet to come. The UAE and Saudi Arabian oil credit facilities were part of the $14.5-billion package agreed with three friendly countries, including China.

The government has already announced a staff level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $6 billion bailout package and is currently in process of implementing prior actions like increase in electricity prices, devaluation of rupee and hiking interest rates.

The central back on Wednesday also announced first ten months balance of payments data that showed an overall improvement in ten months but the monthly current account deficit widened to over $1.2 billion.

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