ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to increase gas loadshedding for the transport sector to more than four days in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two days in Sindh during winter as it grapples with providing uninterrupted supplies to residential consumers amid widening gap between demand and supply.
According to a senior government official, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was informed during his visit to the petroleum ministry on Monday about the rising demand in the domestic sector as a result of over 40,585km of additional lines laid over the past four years for 1.6 million new consumers.
The domestic gas demand is estimated to go up to about 1.4 billion cubic feet per day (BCFD) in peak winter against the unusual consumption of about 900mmcfd (million cubic feet per day). Consequently, the government will have to increase gas holidays for the CNG sector from three days a week to four and a half days in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This will provide a cushion of about 120mmcfd for additional supplies to domestic consumers and protect the export-oriented industrial sector.
Likewise, gas holidays for the CNG sector in Sindh will also have to be increased from one day to two or two and a half days.
The prime minister asked the ministry to ensure that domestic consumers were not affected and give second priority to the power sector as decided by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet to keep power shortfalls within a manageable level.
He asked the ministry to make people aware about conservation of the precious resource and hold consultations with the CNG sector in advance for smooth implementation of the increased gas curtailment policy.
The prime minister was informed that about 879km of main transmission lines at a cost of Rs10.41 billion and 39,707km of distribution and service lines at a cost of Rs61.2 billion had been laid over the past four and a half years of the PPP government to provide gas to 1.6 million new consumers.
The cumulative demand of these consumers stands at about 600mmcfd.
An official said that an overall shortage of over 1.5bcfd was expected during coming winter against committed supplies as total demand would remain static at about 4.3bcfd.
The prime minister was informed that about 750mmcfd was likely to be added to the system by June next year.
HOBC PRICE: On an intervention by the petroleum ministry, Pak-Arab Refinery Limited (Parco) withdrew with immediate effect Rs4.41 it was charging on a litre of HOBC (high octane blending component) as transportation cost.
Informed sources said that taking cognizance of a Dawn report published on Monday, Petroleum Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan, who is also a director on Parco’s board, called the refinery’s managing director and conveyed to him government’s extreme displeasure over its unilateral decision to charge Rs4.41 higher price on HOBC against the rate worked out by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.
The sources said the Parco chief had been told that whether or not its demand for higher transportation cost was justified would be looked into by the government on merit, but it was unfair for the company to unilaterally charge a higher rate without a policy decision by a competent forum. To meet that requirement, the petroleum ministry was required to send a summary to the ECC, but so far it has failed to reach a conclusion on the issue.
The managing director of Parco agreed to withdraw the transportation cost on HOBC till resolution of the issue by the ECC. This reduced HOBC price for various cities to Rs131-133 per litre from Rs137-139.
DISSOLUTION: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum recommended to the government to abolish the petroleum ministry and do away with the weekly review of oil prices and adopt a system of daily or monthly pricing.
Presiding over a meeting of the committee, its chairman Engineer Tariq Khattak said the committee was recommending for the third time to the government to bring down petroleum prices to the July 31 level.
He said the weekly pricing mechanism was a unilateral and dictatorial decision and hence unacceptable to the committee. He said the rising oil prices were increasing the rates of everything and affecting everybody. He said those sitting in the ministries of petroleum and finance were unelected people who did not care for the masses.
Recommending dissolution of the petroleum ministry, the committee said all provinces should have their own petroleum ministries because people were fed up with a centralised petroleum ministry.
Mr Khattak said the committee would hold a press conference to justify its demand for abolishing the ministry.
Senior PPP parliamentarian Nawab Yousaf Talpur said he endorsed the committee’s decisions.