ISLAMABAD: Hoping to overcome prevailing gas shortage, the government on Tuesday decided to announce a new power policy along with a 25-year composite energy strategy this month.
This was the crux of a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The meeting took stock of increasing number of complaints regarding gas and electricity shortage in the country and the remedial measures being taken by the authorities concerned.
The prime minister was told that the prevailing gas shortage was mainly due to two new factors — closure of the LNG re-gasification terminal of Pakistan Gasport (PGP) for maintenance for almost two weeks and additional gas supply to fertiliser and export-oriented industries on the instructions of the government.
PM takes stock of gas and electricity shortage
The Engro LNG terminal was providing LNG at its maximum capacity of 670-690 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd). Normally, the Engro terminal processed six cargos a month compared to two cargos of PGP, therefore there was a shortfall of about 230mmcfd. The two fertiliser plants were also supplied gas this winter unlike in the past to avoid urea shortfall while export industry was also given priority in gas supply this year as part of the government’s policy to support exports. The combination of these factors created a gap of 350-400mmcfd.
It was reported that the terminal was on maintenance from Dec 28 to Jan 10 and would resume operations on Jan 11. Two additional cargos of LNG had been arranged that would help overcome shortage during the current month. On top of that, two cargos each were being arranged for February and March in addition to normally planned cargos by advancing a couple of ships committed for future and through spot purchases.
The meeting was also given an overview of high unaccounted for gas losses that exceeded 13 per cent and given a briefing on steps being taken to control losses that led to wastage of Rs50 billion a year.
The prime minister would follow up with another meeting next week to mitigate the crisis but ordered that estimates about gas demand and supply should be improved through better coordination among various agencies of the petroleum sector and close liaison with the power division.
He ordered his task force on energy to prepare an integrated and composite estimate and formulate a long-term strategy with active involvement of the ministers for petroleum and power and other related agencies. He said the people should not suffer for someone’s mismanagement.
Mr Khan also sought an inquiry report on gas crisis that hit the country last month and was informed that the petroleum division had submitted its findings to the PM Office following an earlier fact-finding report of a separate committee led by Chairperson of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority Uzma Adil Khan.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn after the meeting that the government would announce a new power policy within the current month and put in place a long-term strategy.
Asked about some media reports that the managing directors of the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited were being removed for the last month’s gas crisis, the minister said the prime minister was informed that a petroleum division’s report had reached his office but was open-ended about the fate of the two MDs, leaving the decision to Mr Khan. “The prime minister has not taken any decision today on that,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2019