Despite closure of CNG stations, gas shortage persists

20 Dec 2015

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Due to gas shortage, people have to rely on LPG and compressors. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad
Due to gas shortage, people have to rely on LPG and compressors. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) used to blame the CNG stations for the shortage of gas to domestic consumers. But even after the arrival of shipments carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar and injecting it into the supply system, the consumers still face an acute shortage of gas in the city.

The shortage of gas in the winter has become a routine in the Potohar region, especially in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The residents have to go for the alternatives to burn their stoves in the cold weather. They find wood, coal as the cheaper alternates because liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders have also gone out of their reach.

The citizens wonder why even after the arrival of LNG in the supply system, the shortage of gas could not be resolved.

“We closed down CNG stations to overcome the shortage of 50 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The demand and supply gap leads to the low pressure as the residents start switching on geysers and heaters in the cold weather,” Chaudhry Zahoor, the general manager of the SNGPL, Rawalpindi region, told Dawn.

He said the gas shortage in the twin cities was also caused by some technical problems in the oil field but the situation would gradually improve in the coming days.

The official said people should avoid using gas heaters and geysers. He said there was also a need to create public awareness that excessive use of gas heaters was harmful for human health.

“Another reason for the low pressure is consumers have installed compressors in the domestic units that suck gas from the main supply lines.”

He said the SNGPL had started taking action against such consumers for using compressors illegally.

About any action against shopkeepers who were selling compressors openly, the official said only the district administration can take action against them. “We can take action only against those who have installed compressors in our supply lines,” he said.

However, people mostly do not agree with the demand and supply gap reason of SNGPL and said the government was providing gas to the industry instead of the domestic consumers. All Pakistan CNG Association leader Pervaiz Khattak said despite the closure of the CNG stations, there was still a shortage of gas.

He termed it mismanagement by the gas supply company. He said bigwigs in the country managed to get gas for their industrial units and left the domestic consumers unattended. PTI Punjab north former general secretary Zahid Kazmi said instead of resolving the issue the PML-N government had increased the miseries of the citizens.

“In the last three years, the government failed to resolve the energy crisis. Natural gas is being supplied to fertilizer, sugar and textile industrial units owned by the ruling party industrialists.”

He said it was strange that instead of improving its mismanagement, the SNGPL was asking people not to use geysers and heaters. In most of the urban areas, people only use gas for cooking purposes.

He said the previous PPP government was better than the PML-N government as it provided gas to the domestic units and closed the CNG stations and the industry.

PML-N former MNA Malik Shakil Awan told Dawn that though the residents were facing the shortage of gas, the government was trying to resolve the issue. But it will take time to resolve issues created by the PPP and Musharraf governments, he added.    

He said in Rawalpindi city the SNGPL had replaced old and narrow pipelines so that the consumers could get gas without any hurdle. He said new pipelines were laid in many areas to resolve the issue.

He claimed that after the closure of CNG stations, the shortage situation had improved and in the coming days the citizens would get gas without any hurdle.

Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2015