Karachiites endure power cuts in stifling heat as KE, SSGC play blame game

Updated 25 Sep 2020

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While the two utilities made claims and counter-claims over the gas issue, residents experienced prolonged spells of power disruption during sizzling weather. — AP/File
While the two utilities made claims and counter-claims over the gas issue, residents experienced prolonged spells of power disruption during sizzling weather. — AP/File

KARACHI: Controversy bet­ween K-Electric and Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd over gas supply and pressure deepened further on Thursday adding despair and misery on Karachiites as loadshedding in nearly every locality of the metropolis continued, with cuts of up to 12 hours in some areas.

While the two utilities made claims and counter-claims over the gas issue, residents experienced prolonged spells of power disruption during sizzling weather, with many consumers believing that the power utility had resorted to prolonged loadshedding deliberately in reaction to the public hearing held by Nepra earlier this week against the exclusivity of Karachi’s lone power supplier.

The power utility said it was currently receiving low gas pressure from the SSGC, which created up to 400MW shortfall. “KE’s furnace oil power plants are fully functional, supply gap will only be filled after gas pressure is restored to KE’s power plants,” it said in a tweet.

A KE spokesperson told Dawn that the power utility was facing an ongoing issue with gas pressure from the SSGC. “While the quantity of the required gas remains available, decreased pressure leads to reduced production of electricity. This gas pressure shortfall has created a supply gap of 400MW, at a time when demand is high”, he added.

The spokesperson added that pressure of the gas supplied to KE’s power-generation plants was low due to which various gas-fired plants at Korangi and SITE were not able to operate at their optimum capacity despite remaining fully available.

KE says it is resorting to power cuts due to ‘low gas pressure’

“Generation will be increased as soon as gas supply at the desired pressure is available. KE’s furnace-oil fired power plants are fully functional at this time”, he added.

The KE spokesperson said that SSGC was providing the required volume of gas, but the power plants needed certain gas pressure to generate electricity.

He said that the power utility had also requested to purchase re-liquefied natural gas (RLNG) if made available at required gas pressure to meet short-term requirements and is awaiting confirmation on the same, adding that the curtailment of gas pressure would lead to increase in loadshedding hours across all consumer segments, including industrial zones. “The power utility requests that SSGC put in all the required efforts to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible,” he added.

SSGC denies gas ‘loadshedding’

Meanwhile, the SSGC said that there was no gas loadshedding in its franchise areas.

A spokesperson for the gas utility said that a low-pressure situation was created due to diminishing gas supplies from different gas fields.

He said that line pack system of the gas utility was affected due to a shortfall of gas, therefore, it was giving first preference in the gas supply to the domestic sector following the government’s gas load-management plan.

The spokesman said that KE was provided required volume and pressure of gas to its major plant at Bin Qasim. He said that two small power plants were facing low gas pressure as they were located in tail end.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020