LAHORE: Production activities in half of the entire textile export industry on Thursday came to a complete or partial halt after the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd stopped gas supply to the captive power plants (CPPs) compelling the industry to run on electricity.

“Since disconnection of gas supply to CPPs following rise in domestic sector’s demand, around 200 mills are partially or completely closed that means we have almost no production from 50 per cent of our total textile exports industry producing raw material, yarn, cloth, garments, etc. It is very bad,” deplores All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) chairman Abdul Rahim Nasir while talking to Dawn on Thursday.

The operation of large units exclusively on electricity, according to industry, is difficult since the steam that is used in dying and other processes cannot be generated.

SNGPL diverts gas supply to domestic consumers

“Only the new machines, and not the used ones, can be run effectively on electricity. But with captive power, all can be run efficiently leading to the generation of steam and production as per demand.

When asked why the industry didn’t switch to electricity despite having connections, he said it did, but it couldn’t work due to a 14-hour long power shutdown caused by tripping of the respective grid stations. “This disruption in gas supply coupled with a sudden drop in temperature and high moisture in the air led to tripping of 132kV grid stations and transmission lines in the industrial hubs. The situation has chocked the production activity of the textile industry especially in Punjab as mills close down their operations at the cost of losing export orders and retrenchment of labour,” he added.

Mr Nasir said the millers were running from pillar to post in search of energy while the relevant departments are inattentive to the issue as usual, leaving Aptma with no option but to ask the prime minister to intervene.

He further said the Punjab-based industry was hit with a double whammy, ie, an increase in gas tariff from $6.5 to $9 per mmBtu and loadshedding of gas. “I think that the Punjab industry is being discriminated against other provinces, which would be detrimental to the overall growth of the national economy in the long run.”

On the other hand, a spokesman for the SNGPL dispelled the impression stating that of the total 2,300 industrial units/gas consumers, 1,900 are being supplied uninterrupted gas. “We have only disconnected gas supply to 400 industrial units operating on CPPs,” the spokesman clarified.

He said such units should use electricity since the respective power distribution companies have sufficient electricity for them at cheaper rates.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar in a tweet on Thursday said the process gas is being supplied uninterrupted to textile. “Only the gas that they were using for captive power plants has been curtailed.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2021

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