LAHORE: The special task force on energy has underscored the urgent need for addressing the supply-side issues to remove growing gas shortages in Punjab.
'We do not support gas demand rationing for any sector of the economy as a solution to the problem of acute gas shortages facing people in Punjab,' chairman of the task force Gohar Ejaz told a news conference after a meeting of the all-businessmen body on Friday.
He said the private sector was prepared to invest in new projects aimed at increasing gas supply.
He said the supply side issue had not been addressed during the last four years and no fresh gas discovery made because Pakistan offered $2.54 return on exploration of fields against international rate of $14.
Also, he said, no serious effort had been made to revive the dormant gas fields or import energy to fill the supply gap. He said Pakistan's import needs were less than the total internationally traded volume of gas in the form of LNG.
With the total demand standing at 1650 mmcfd, the gas shortfall in Punjab has grown to 1,100 mmefd this winter on rising domestic demand because of falling temperature, compelling the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) to cut supplies to the general industry, fertilisers and textile industry from Dec 25.
Additionally, the supplies to independent power producers (IPPs) have to be curtailed by 151 mmcfd to 305 mmcfd and CNG sector by 60 mmcfd to meet domestic demand of 1000mmcfd and commercial requirement of 80mmcf d.
The different sectors of the economy in Punjab on an average suffered gas supply suspension for around 170 days during 2011, resulting industrial closures, jo b and export losses and widespread protests.
Gohar said the industry is likely to face gas curtailment throughout the year ahead in case no short and long term solutions were chalked out as a way forward.
The task force, formed last week to suggest ways to overcome energy crunch, comprises leading businessmen from the different sectors of the economy textiles, fertiliser, general industry, IPPs and others.
The task force is expected to finalise its recommendations by Tuesday for presentation at the next cabinet meeting expected to be held on Jan 18.
The task force members included Ahsan Bashir, Fawwad Mukhtar, Shahid Abdullah, Amir Fayyaz, Shahzad Ali Khan, Seth Mohammad Akbar and Anjum Nisar.
Gohar said the task force had deliberated creation of supplies from domestic resources as well as through imports and construction of infrastructure to connect remoter areas with the Karachi port and brining dormant fields into operation.
He said the industry had come forward to play a role in managing gas shortages because 10 million jobs and the national economy were at a risk.