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LAHORE: State-owned gas entities -- Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) -- may not be able to install two million new gas connections by June this year as they lack the material and time to accomplish this task.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while inaugurating a re-gasified liquefied natural gas pumping station near Bhong (Rahim Yar Khan) a couple of days ago, had announced giving two million new connections to consumers.

The number of applications in the areas of SNGPL and SSGC has continued to rise for a long time due to increasing demand for gas, especially from domestic consumers. The SNGPL being the biggest gas utility with over 5.5 million consumers alone had a backlog of 2.4 million applications for connections and the number was increasing fast. Under a policy, the company is hardly able to install 500,000 connections a year.

“Giving two million new connections to consumers by end of June looks very difficult. It may not even be possible by the end of this year as the gas utilities, especially SNGPL, will be requiring over two million new meters and other material and a huge number of field teams urgently, which is not possible,” an official source claimed.

PM recently announced provision of new connections to consumers

The SNGPL’s total number of consumers was 5.5 million domestic, 55,000 commercial and around 7,000 industrial. The company’s current peak winter demand ranged between 2,500mmcfd and 2,600mmcfd. A shortfall of up to 300mmcfd persisted until recently when the second LNG terminal scaled up to its full capacity of 600mmcfd.

“In the current fiscal year, which will end on June 30, the SNGPL’s target is to install 500,000 connections, including urgent cases, as allowed by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra). Before this, Ogra had allowed 200,000 new connections each year. So I don’t think it will be possible for the gas companies to install two million new connections,” the source told Dawn.

He said the SNGPL’s backlog of 2.4 million applications included nearly 400,000 in the Lahore region alone out of which over 75,000 will be given connections during the ongoing fiscal year.

When contacted, a senior official told Dawn that PM Abbasi had actually talked about giving two million new gas connections by the end of his government’s tenure. “The company installed connections for 1.2 million consumers from 2013 to 2017. By the end of June, the company will install 700,000 more connections, taking the total number of new connections during this government to about two million,” he claimed.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018