Karzai orders to assess crude oil refinery process not implemented
KABUL (Pajhwok): President Hamid Karzai and his cabinet had ordered twice to assess oil refinery process and stop importing of premagon--- low-quality fuel materials--- in the country but that orders would be implemented yet.
A Russian word, premagon refers to the unrefined crude oil that is blamed for environmental pollution.
For the last two years, the Afghan government had banned import of premagon but last year the council of ministers had lifted the ban and allowed only Ghazanfar Group Company to import 10,000 tons of low-quality premagon fuel.
However, other companies protested the decision to import premagon material which was causing environment pollution.
The protesters had alleged Ghazanfar Group Company had no ability to refine the low quality fuel material.
The processing of premagon needs over id="mce_marker" billion investment while in stark contrast the Ghazanfar Group Company had invested $30 million only on its refineries, the protesters informed.
In February 2014, President Hamid Karzai met some officials of oil and gas importing companies. After hearing their view point, the president ordered the assessment of Ghazanfar Group Company refineries through the international observers.
In addition, President Karzai and his cabinet had endorsed a draft in which the import of premagon and other related materials were strictly banned.
According to the draft, the Ministry of Commerce and Afghanistan National Standard Authority (ANSA) were tasked to invite international panel to investigate the allegation against Ghazanfar Group but not steps could be taken in this regard.
Musafar Quqandi, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries spokesman, said the election was the main factor behind the delay to implement the president and his cabinet orders.
Some companies could not process the refinery of crude oil in a proper way, which was the prime factor of environmental pollution, said Prof. Ahmad Shah Wadood, lecturer at Kabul University. Such kinds of materials could cause spread of cancer and other fatal diseases.
Azrakhash Hafizi, head of fuel import companies, said premagon was extremely dangerous to human health and environment.
The import of premagon was banned in the country but then finance minister had allowed Gazanfar Group to import low quality fuel materials, Hafizi added.
He said some circles with their vested interests joined hands with Ghazanfar Group and allowed the group to import premagon.
Mujibur Rahman Khater, head of ANSA, expressed doubts about the efficiency of Ghazanfar group in line with refinery activities.
He said around 80 percent refined premagon were allowed in the market and the use of less than 80 percent would be dangerous for the environment.
The council of ministers allowed 2,000 tons of premagon, while Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, former minister of oil and petroleum, ordered 500,000 tons import of premagon, he added.
Ghazanfar Group was allowed to import premagon after the decision of the council of minister, Ahadi told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Mohammad Ibrahim Shams, an official of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), said they received orders for the invitation of a delegation from abroad to assess the efficiency of refinery as to how the premagon was being refined.
Many international companies were contacted to assess refinery process but only Turkish companies had shown interest, Shams added.
He said that a proper search for a suitable and competent foreign company to assess the refinery activities was the mean reasons for delay in implementation of the orders.
Azraksh Hafizi said second vice president Ibrahim Khalili had formed a committee with a task to assess the Ghazanfar Group’s refinery activities but the committee would yet come out with some tangible results.
Abbas Basir, spokesman of the second vice president, said the second vice president suspended the committee because he was not satisfied of its performance.
After broad-based consultation with some experts, the vice president decided to allow Ghazanfar Group to refine the premagon until the foreign experts were arrived for assessment of its refinery activities.
On the other hand, members of the crude oil imports union criticized the decision of council of minister by saying that the long promised investigation against Ghazanfar Group did not take place.
Hafizi added, if Ghazanfar Group had the ability to refine crude oil then the group should first refined the extracted oil of Shiberghan.
He said around one million tons of crude oil had been extracted from Shiberghan and Ghazanfar Group should first refine that oil if the company had the ability to refine crude oil or premagon.
Meanwhile, an official of Ghazanfar Group wishing not to be named, rejected the allegations against the group and told Pajhwok Afghan News that after the decision of the council of minister, the company had started the imports of premagon.
He said that the use of unrefined premagon was dangerous but after refinery process it was not that much dangerous.
An official of the Ghazanfar Group said qualified individuals should assess the performance of the company refinery process.
He said the government delegation sent for the assessment of the company’s refinery ability was satisfied with the performance of its work.
On the other hand, Saifuddin Saihon, lecturer at Kabul University, said the delegation did not reveal its report which was sent by the council of ministers for the assessment purpose of Ghazanfar Group refinery activities.
According to Saihon, the import of low-quality fuel had been continued since long adding that powerful individuals were in connivance in providing cover to the case of Ghazanfar Group. He warned the people of Afghanistan had to face the consequences of the use of low-quality fuel.
After the complaints of crude oil importers union, officials of chamber of commerce asked both sides to present themselves in front of media with their arguments and get the issue resolved through a proper way.
The chamber of commerce in a statement demanded the government should resolve the issue between Ghazanfar Group and the crude oil importer union, said Khan Jan Alkozai, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.
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