LAHORE: Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain has announced to increase the supply of gas to the industry from three days to five days a week from Monday.
Speaking by telephone from Islamabad to the management committee of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma-Punjab) and media on Thursday, he said the rising temperature and addition of about 225mmcfd to the system had allowed him to increase the gas supply to the entire industry in Punjab.
He admitted that the industry in Punjab had suffered colossal production, export and job losses due to gas shortages since the onset of winter and was hopeful that the increased supply of gas from the next week would help it raise its exports and create new jobs.
Chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Energy Gohar Ejaz appreciated the minister’s decision and termed it a Pakistan Day gift for the industry in Punjab.
He said the energy shortages in Punjab had resulted in 40 per cent reduction in exports in terms of quantity during the last nine months. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost and the industry’s non-performing loan portfolio increased to 31 per cent of its total outstanding debt.
He said the industry would try its best to increase exports and create jobs if seven days a week gas supply was ensured.
The minister also spoke in detail on the efforts being made by the government to eliminate energy shortages by increasing domestic supplies and importing LNG. In answer to a question, he said the government was considering an offer by India to provide LNG from its terminals by laying a 25-30km pipeline.
“We will take a decision on it shortly after the publication of the negative list (of items that cannot be traded) for India,” he said.
The minister also reiterated the government’s determination to implement the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project in spite of pressure from the United States.
“We believe that the project is not covered by the sanctions imposed on Iran (to force it to roll back its nuclear programme) because it was an old project,” he argued.
He said the current year would be tough insofar as gas shortages were concerned.
“But we will add 1000mmcfd to the system by next year.” He said the gas supply to Punjab’s industry was being increased it had suffered the most because of the shortages.
He urged the textile industry to take advantage of the increase in the gas supply and create more jobs and increase exports.
He said the gas supply would be better than last year and going forward he would try to provide gas to the industry throughout the entire week.