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Industry reels from gas supply disruption in Karachi

Updated December 13, 2018

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The industrialists feel caught in a limbo as even the five export-oriented industries, exempted from load shedding, are currently facing massive gas cuts. ─ File photo
The industrialists feel caught in a limbo as even the five export-oriented industries, exempted from load shedding, are currently facing massive gas cuts. ─ File photo

KARACHI: A large number of industrial units in the city are faced with acute gas shortages which has crippled their production-line and threatened timely fulfillment of export commitments worth millions of dollars ahead of the peak seasons of Christmas and New Year.

The industrialists feel caught in a limbo as even the five export-oriented industries, exempted from load shedding, are currently facing massive gas cuts.

Manufacturers say that though successive governments have resorted to gas cuts, even announced in advance of supply discontinuation to Captive Power Plants (CPP), the situation has never hit this extent.

Since last Saturday, the six industrial estates of Karachi started to face extreme low gas pressure coupled with frequent shortages, thereby crippling their operations. Even the exempted five export-oriented industries faced gas shortage.

The SITE Association of Industry President Saleem Parekh expressed his serious concerns over non-availability of gas in Karachi and termed it ‘disastrous for export industries’, urging the federal and provincial governments to wake up to the situation.

He lamented that the country’s exports in November declined by 6.4 per cent and only $1.84 billion worth of exports could be made. Therefore, with no gas, the industry could not perform and fulfill their exports commitments.

Questioning the performance of the SSGC, Parekh said with over 14pc unaccounted for gas (UFG) in general and up to 41pc UFG in interior Sindh, one can wonder why the industry is being deprived of its deserving share of fuel.

He further said that since Sindh produces up to 73pc gas, it has the first right to use its resources, but currently is getting only 36pc, while Punjab is consuming up to 49pc of gas producing only 5pc of it.

Chairman Landhi Association of Trade and Industry Zain Bashir said that it is wrong to say that if gas supply is maintained to five export-oriented industries, the exports would not be affected.

He explained that unless the ancillary industries like cardboard, packing, processing, dying, etc, which supply materials to export industries could not work, export orders cannot be fulfilled.

Gas supply to domestic and many other consumers even in countries like UAE, Gulf States and Europe is made through cylinders and not pipeline as it take million of mmbtus to stay in the distribution network, Bashir added.

Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) President M. Danish Khan said that many industries have become export-oriented over time. For instance, rice industry after textile is second largest export industry with over $2 billion exports. Similarly, pharmaceutical industry is also a fast growing export industry along with the packaging industry, he added.

President North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry, Syed Tariq Rashid, said that most of the industries are run by boilers which are heated up by gas, without which they come to a total halt.

He regretted that the sudden closure of gas last Saturday resulted in damage to a large number of CCPs as their electronic gadgets being sensitive caught fire.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2018