Help sought from China, US to avoid blackouts

Updated January 27, 2015

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Motorists drive on an unlit street during a power cut in Karachi on January 25, 2015.— AFP
Motorists drive on an unlit street during a power cut in Karachi on January 25, 2015.— AFP

ISLAMABAD: As the power system became normal on Monday after the weekend blackout, the government sought support from China and the United States to introduce technology that could prevent nationwide cascading power breakdowns due to sabotage, Water and Power Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif said at a news conference.

The minister attended a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to review the power situation. Mr Sharif ordered immediate disbursement of Rs40 billion to the Pakistan State Oil he had sanctioned last week.

The minister spent a major part of his presser on relationship with K-Electric and said the power supply to Karachi from the national grid was not being disconnected immediately, but a new agreement would need to be signed for future.

Read: Power blackout

He said the new agreement would have to be worked out on fresh terms and conditions to ensure an “equitable sharing of loadshedding” across the country in the light of decisions of the Council of Common Interests and the Supreme Court.

Officials said that except for some parts of Balochistan, the entire transmission system had been restored as it dispatched 8,800MW by Monday evening against a maximum estimated de­mand of 12,500MW. This included 5,100MW from IPPs, 2,300MW from hydropower and 1,400MW from public sector generation companies.

Khwaja Asif said the government was making efforts to ensure zero loadshedding to the industrial sector in two to three days. Loadshedding would be carried out for eight hours in rural areas and six hours in urban areas.

He said the current supply situation was resulting in four hours of load management for industry, six hours for urban and eight hours for rural areas.

Also read: Parts of Pakistan still without electricity, following breakdown

The minister said the prime minister had sought an inquiry report within 48 hours while steps had been taken to enhance security of power installations. The Balochistan government had been requested to beef up security in the Naseerabad area, which had seen repeated sabotage attempts in recent days.

He said USAID and China State Grid have been approached for technical assistance to the isolated national grid from localised terrorist activities and to avoid complete blackouts in future. Hydropower generation would improve gradually when canals started opening in 10-15 days and would contribute more than 6,000MW to the system.


Prime minister orders immediate disbursement of Rs40bn to PSO


He said 12 cargoes of fuel booked by the PSO would start arriving in Karachi on Tuesday and there would be no power crisis because of oil shortage. The power ministry was trying to clear over Rs170bn arrears to the PSO in instalments.

The minister admitted that loadshedding could not be eliminated, but efforts were expected to root out the menace by 2017. emphasized text Also read: 'Power breakdown caused by militants blowing up transmission towers'

In reply to a question, the minister said the government was passing on to consumers the benefit of oil price decline through monthly fuel price adjustments.

To a question on privatisation of Discos and objections raised by opposition parties, Khwaja Asif said the PML-N government was confronting bad decisions and at the same time implementing good decisions of the PPP-MQM coalition government and was not following any new strategy on privatisation.

He recalled that the first round of privatisation of Kot Addu Power and the PTCL was conducted by the PPP and the PML-N government was privatising entities approved by the coalition government.

Published in Dawn January 27th, 2015

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