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LAHORE: After touching its peak on Friday, the forced loadshedding in areas under Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) and other Discos started declining from early Saturday after the government ordered to make operational some furnace oil-run plants which were closed reportedly on the orders of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for being expensive.

According to officials, the crisis was caused because of closure of several gas-fired and furnace oil-run power plants.

“There was almost no electricity in our area on Friday and the situation persisted till Saturday morning. We were told by the Lesco staff it was due to scheduled shutdowns for annual maintenance of the grid stations and the transmission lines. But later the officials changed their version, blaming it on a countrywide power breakdown, low generation etc,” says Shahzad of a residential area near Model Town Link Mor.

Murtaza, a resident of Johar town criticises the government for not keeping the promises it made to the people in 2013.

“The situation appears to be beyond control of the government, as it looks busy but was actually doing nothing,” he said.

Decline in the power generation led to a massive decline in the allocated power draw quota or the total demand of Discos.

“The situation was worst till Saturday morning, as the Lesco just drew only 1,200MW against its total demand of around 2,200MW to 2,300MW. And all other Discos too experienced the same situation,” an official told this reporter.

However, he said, the situation started improving after 6am (Saturday) after the government ordered restarting of some furnace oil-based power plants. “After improvement, the Lesco’s power draw quota increased to 1,600MW from 1,200MW. But despite all this, Lesco and other Discos continued observing loadshedding, gradually reducing it according to increase in supply,” he added.

He said around 3,000MWs of the total 6,700MWs had returned to the system due to resumption of some furnace oil plants. But, the normalcy won’t return till the gas-fired plants are made operational, he said.

On the other hand, the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) says the gas supply curtailed partially or completely to as many as 10 plants on Friday would be resumed by Nov 8 after completion of the routine maintenance of the LNG terminal at Port Qasim by Nov 7.

“The supply to Bhikki (Sheikhpura) and Havaili Bahadur Shah Re-Gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) plants has been stopped. Similarly, the supply to eight other plants was cut to almost half or even more, lowering the total generation,” a senior SNGPL official told Dawn.

The plants, which started facing a considerable reduction in the gas supply from Friday, included Balloki, Nandipur, Fauji Kabirwala, Rosche (Abdul Hakim, Khanewal), Guddu, Liberty, Altern and Engro. “85MMCFD is being supplied to Balloki, Nandipur-31MMCFD, Fauji (Kabirwala)-14MMCFD, Roche-41MMCFD, Guddu-38MMCFD, Liberty-32MMCFD, Altern energy-7MMCFD and Engro Energy-56MMCFD,” the official, who requested anonymity, explained.

He said since the LNG plants’ maintenance would continued till Nov 7, there could be a complete gas curtailment to all the aforementioned plants from November 5 to Nov 7.

“It will start happening, as the SNGPL will be receiving only 150 of the total 650MMCFD of RLNG and it will be left with no option but to curtail supply to a majority of these plants during the three days,” he warned.

Meanwhile, the people in addition to the power shutdowns also started experiencing low gas pressure in various parts of Lahore and other districts.

“For the last some days, we are experiencing low gas pressure in our area,” Afzal, a resident of Township said. He demanded of the government to take immediate notice of the worst situation.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2017