A Karachi-Islamabad re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) pipeline feeding industry, gas stations and domestic consumers in central Punjab was targeted in a bomb attack in Rahim Yar Khan early on Wednesday.
According to Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Ltd (SNGPL) sources, the blast was caused by a timed explosive device. The explosives were planted in the pipeline at Bhong Road in Sadiqabad near the Bhong Sui Gas repeater station A-1, Rescue 1122 officials said.
SNGPL's chief engineer transmission Muhammad Shoaib told Dawn that the RLNG pipeline, with a 36-inch diameter and wall thickness of 0.588 inches, was laid one year ago to supply gas from Karachi to Islamabad. The pipeline feeds the industry, gas stations and domestic consumers in central Punjab.
Shoaib said that last night terrorists had dug a three-foot hole at the main RLNG pipeline and fixed a device at the top, which blew up the pipeline.
He said the incident took place at 2:40 am adding that the system was under control by 3:05 am. Shoaib said that rehabilitation work of the pipeline had started and it would be restored in the next 48 hours.
Assistant Commissioner (AC) Sadiqabad Abbas Raza Nasir described the blast as "a terrorist act". Following the attack, eight firetrucks under Rescue 1122, SNGPL and a private factory reached the spot to extinguish the fire.
AC Nasir told Dawn that SNGPL engineers had also arrived at the site of the blast and that two scientists were expected to arrive shortly to conduct forensic tests. According to the AC, restoration will take between 24 and 48 hours.
According to SNGPL's Muhammad Shoaib, nearly 40 to 50 blasts have taken place in the area since 2002. He said that last month terrorists had fixed an explosive device at the RLNG pipeline near Sadiq canal in Sardar Garh but security guards had intervened in a timely manner and removed the bomb. The terrorists, however, had escaped.
A gas crisis hit Pakistan in December and proliferated across the country, forcing industry closures across Punjab and Karachi, even as domestic consumers in many areas faced low gas pressure and outages.
In a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, the government decided to announce a new power policy, in hopes to overcome the prevailing gas shortage.