KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday threatened to disconnect the Sui Southern Gas Company’s pipeline and storm its head office in Karachi if it did not sign a gas supply agreement for a 100MW power plant in Nooriabad this week.
The chief minister gave the ultimatum in the Sindh Assembly while responding to complaints about 16-18 hours of unscheduled power loadshedding.
A number of legislators complained that despite the harsh summer weather and repeated remonstrations, consumers were now facing gas loadshedding.
Ghulam Qadir Chandio, an MPA of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), speaking on a point of order, accused the power utility of ignoring the plight of citizens by saying that loadshedding would be longer in areas with a low bill recovery.
Gas company asks for a security deposit of Rs1 billion
He pointed out that although recovery of bills was higher in cities than in rural areas, people there continued to suffer from gas loadshedding.
Mr Chandio urged the chief minister to take up the matter with the authorities concerned.
Mr Shah said the provincial government had raised the issue at the relevant forum the last time this problem had occurred.
He recalled that while drawing up the previous budget, the provincial government had decided to install a 100MW power plant at Nooriabad and lay its own transmission line to supply electricity to Hyderabad.
“We signed an agreement with the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) for purchase of electricity, but Hesco turned down the offer claiming that it did not need extra electricity as loadshedding in Hyderabad division has ended. This was a lie,” said the chief minister.
The provincial government later signed an agreement with the K-Electric Company to supply 100MW from the Nooriabad plant and laid a transmission line to supply electricity to Karachi.
In 2013, the provincial government signed an agreement with the Sui Southern Gas Company to supply 20MCF gas to the Nooriabad power plant. Mr Shah alleged that the company had used various tactics to hold up signing of the agreement. For example, the chief minister added, the company did not amend certain clauses that were not acceptable to the Sindh government.
Warning the Sui Southern of drastic action, the chief minister said since Sindh produced 70 per cent of the total output in the country, it must be given priority in gas quota under Article 158 of the Constitution.
The K-Electric had been waiting for power supply from Nooriabad, but so far the gas company had not given it the 20MFC share agreed upon.
“I warn the Sui Southern Gas Company that if an agreement is not signed this week, we will disconnect the gas line.”
He said the provincial government was working on a plan to set up another 100MW power plant, but a fresh agreement with SSGC for the supply of 20MFC was needed for execution of the plan.
In response to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s remarks, the SSGC said in a statement on Thursday it cannot comment on the distribution of gas under Article 158 as the matter didn’t come under its domain.
The SSGC said it was ready to supply gas to the power plant provided the plant’s management made a security deposit of Rs1 billion.
The SSGC will release gas to the plant as soon as the deposit was made, it added.
The company claimed that a gas sales agreement between the SSGC and the power plant’s management had already been signed.
It pointed out that a few amendments, as requested by the management, had been approved by the SSGC’s board of directors. It needed to be incorporated into the gas sales agreement with mutual consent.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2017