18th March 2023
EP Report

Two of the six vendors of the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation have expressed reservations about providing further fuel cargos, in a development that raises questions of whether the state agency would be able to ensure uninterrupted supply in the coming months.


BPC owes Singapore-based Vitol Asia and China's oil trading giant Unipec about $282 million amid the ongoing dollar crunch.


Earlier in 2020, the two won a tender to supply up to 1.06 million tonnes of oil products in the first half of the year after placing the lowest offers.


Vitol Asia, the Asian unit of the world's largest independent oil trading house, had dues of $152.60 million from BPC.


The company sent emails on August 8 and 10 last year informing that they will not be able to supply fuel to Bangladesh if BPC does not clear the dues and demanded interest on the late payments.


Then on February 28, officials of Vitol Asia met with BPC.


As of this month, BPC was unable to clear the dues, an official of Vitol Asia Bangladesh told The Daily Star asking not to be named.


Similarly, Unipec -- a subsidiary of Chinese Sinopec, the world's largest crude oil refiner by total capacity -- had dues of $129 million.


On February 28, the Beijing-based company wrote to the BPC about its dues.


Then on March 4, a ship loaded with diesel from Unipec arrived at the Chattogram port but the cargo was barred from leaving the vessel until the dues were cleared.


"We couldn't release the fuel due to the financial hold," said an official of BPC on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly on the issue.


On March 5, BPC made a payment of $62.27 million to Unipec and was able to release the cargo from the port.

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