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Gas imports saving exchequer $1.25bn: PM

Updated October 31, 2017

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LAHORE: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said liquefied natural gas (LNG) is being imported from Qatar on a cost-free basis.

The country is saving $1.25 billion annually, which is more than the expense being incurred on LNG import, re-gasification and supply, he said.

“It is actually free. Saving is more than the cost of LNG,” Mr Abbasi told Dawn on Saturday.

“The country is getting a benefit of $1.25bn as LNG is being handled, re-gasified and supplied through a single terminal to several parts of the country. After the commissioning of another LNG terminal at the Karachi port, the saving will increase further,” the premier added.

The opposition continues to express concerns about the LNG import contract with Qatar. It considers the contract controversial because it has not been produced and discussed in parliament. It also alleges that the government has concealed contract details, particularly its price.

“This contract was available on the PSO website even before the start of the delivery of LNG consignments. We discussed it with everyone. Even recently, I went to the Senate and briefed senators about the agreement in detail,” he said.

Mr Abbasi dispelled the impression that Pakistan can never renegotiate the price under the agreement. “This agreement is for 15 years. The price can be renegotiated after 10 years. It means Qatar can ask us to increase the price and Pakistan may demand a reduction in it. If there is no resolution, either party can walk away from the agreement, which will stand cancelled or terminated,” he explained.

The prime minister was of the view that the government did its best for the textile industry. The government is giving maximum relief to the textile sector, he said. It gave the textile sector more than what it demanded, he added. “Had the textile industry representatives read the constitution, they would have avoided talking about the LNG tariff for them... We have already done a lot for the textile industry. And it is not possible to do more for it,” he added.

Mr Abbasi said that under the constitution, the province producing gas, oil or any other natural resource owns that asset and has the first right to use it. All provinces, including even the gas-producing ones ie Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are facing a gas deficit, he said. “But LNG continues to meet the deficit and fulfil the requirement of the provinces, especially Punjab,” the premier said.

Mr Abbasi said the second LNG terminal will be ready for operation next month. “I am scheduled to inaugurate this plant on Nov 16,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2017