LAHORE: The current oil crisis has already brought down electricity generation by over 2,000MW, raising the deficit to 7,000MW and cutting supplies to half of the total demand of over 14,000MW. More power plants are likely to suspend working in a few days because they are running out of furnace oil, the power sector’s managers warned on Saturday.

To save domestic consumers, who are already facing around 12- hour outages, from further suffering, the managers have increased loadshedding for the industry from four to 10 hours. The four-hour gas supplies to the industry, which it got after the prime minister’s intervention, also stopped as the government diverted gas to compressed natural gas (CNG) stations, spelling what industrialists called “disaster for them.”

The government has also asked public sector companies to cut their generation to half because of paucity of fuel.

Read: Shortage of petrol hits alarming levels

On Saturday, power companies were generating only 700MW against 1,400MW of a few days ago. The hydel component of the generation, on average, is already down to 800MW because of canal closure. Independent power producers cut their generation to 5,500MW from 6,500MW a few days ago.

“The overall situation has worsened and is deteriorating further,” an official of the Pakistan Electric Power Company said.

The company is struggling to keep bigger plants like Hubco, Muzaffargarh and Jamshoro alive because, if they go down, the entire system would collapse.

The Guddu power plant has already been closed. If another major plant suspends working, it would be hard to maintain frequency of the system. It developed a major fault thrice and triggered three national breakdowns over the past few weeks.

“So, it is now a multidimensional struggle for the power managers: arranging oil for the companies lacking funds, keeping the system balanced under extreme conditions, constantly watching the plants to prevent any fluctuation and still taking popular flake for failing to do what people expected of them, the official said.

Admitting that the failure to recover bills is worsening the situation for the sector, said an official of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company. He claimed that the government was also creating huge financial and administrative problems for the sector.

“Almost the entire sector is being run on ad-hoc basis. None of the 14 crucial companies involved in generation, transmission and distribution is led by a permanent head. The chiefs of those companies are holding their posts either as an additional charge or on temporary or/ad hoc basis. They cannot even express their professional advice, leave alone assert it. With these headless companies running the show, no one is there to plan and execute the planning.

The government owes huge money to the sector in tariff differential subsidy, but these spineless managing directors or chief executive officers cannot pressurise the ministry.

The Federal Bureau Revenue owes over Rs122 billion under the refund head, but it always comes up with counter claims and delays the payment – and no one can ask them, leave alone protest. No one is there to fight on behalf of the sector.

The government agreed to use federal adjuster (at source deduction) to clear the provincial governments’ bills.

But Islamabad has almost forgotten it. As a result the provincial governments owe around Rs200 billion to the sector. But, no one can go and ask the federal government because everyone is saving his post. What else could be result of such policy, except for disaster for everyone, he lamented.

Published in Dawn January 18th , 2015

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