LAHORE: As hydel power generation considerably squeezed to just 1,700MW on average in the last 24 hours, the gas shortfall in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa jumped to 400MMCFD on Monday, forcing the authorities to curtail supplies to power sector.
“Though the gas supply to the CNG sector and industry has already been suspended for an indefinite period to ensure provision of gas to domestic users and zero-rated export industry, massive reduction in power generation has left the distribution companies, including the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco), with no other option but to start observing loadshedding off and on from Monday,” an official source revealed to Dawn on Monday.
The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) took the decision to curtail gas supply to various power plants in Punjab on Monday, squeezing it to 180MMCFD from 400MMCFD. The plants facing reduced or no gas supply included Havaili Bahadur Shah (Jhang), Balloki (Kasur) and Bhikki (Sheikhupura) — having generation capacity of 1,200MW each. Since Roche (Kabirwala) and some others are also facing a similar situation, non-availability of water and release of reduced water indent for provinces has affected hydel generation, squeezing it to 1,700MW or so.
“If we note total hydel generation in the last 24 hours, it remained 2,907MW (peak hours) and 1,701MW on average. It included Tarbela’s 990MW (peak) and 483 (on average) with drastically reduced 1,8000 cusecs of water. The hydel generation at Ghazi Brotha touched 750MW in the peak hours and 405MW on average, while the generation at Mangla was recorded 545MW (peak) and 393MW on average.
Discos start loadshedding
Likewise, the generation at the Warsak Dam remained 152MW during peak and 60MW on average, while Neelum Jhelum hydropower project recorded 191MW (peak) and 190MW on average in the last 24 hours,” a senior official source in Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) said.
“As many as 12 of the total 17 units of Tarbela Dam, which needs around 40,000 cusecs to generate 1,000MW, are switched off due to non-availability of adequate water that has squeezed to only 18,000 cusecs,” he added.
According to a power sector official, a massive decline in hydel and thermal power generation owing to water and gas shortage has caused reduction in the allocated electricity quota for Discos, including Lesco, forcing them to implement a load management plan in the areas falling within service jurisdictions of high-loss feeders and others.
“Since there is a shortfall of over 2,000MW in the system, the Discos have started observing loadshedding off and on, keeping in view the demand and supply,” he maintained.
The National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) managing girector and general manager (National Power Control Centre) were not available to explain the power shortfall being faced by the Discos.
On the other hand, a senior SNGPL official warned that situation might worsen if harsh weather persisted. “Though we have succeeded in improving pressure (line pack) in our system from 3,600 to 4,000 through suspending gas supplies to CNG, general industry and power sector, the crisis may worsen if the ongoing chilly weather persists in the coming days,” he warned.
“And had we continued providing gas to CNG , general industry and power plants, our system would have collapsed. So by doing so, we have succeeded in saving our system,” he added.
However, he claimed, the company would continue gas supply to domestic and zero-rated export industry in any case. “Although the domestic consumers are experiencing low gas pressure or getting no gas in the tail-end areas, the situation will improve with pressure increasing in the system,” he maintained.
Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2019