ISLAMABAD: Amid growing electricity shortage, Pakistan on Wednesday received lowest bids from PetroChina International Singapore for spot Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) cargoes for deliveries in the first and last week of June.

Against its spot tender issued on April 30 for two cargoes in June, the state-run Pakistan LNG Ltd (PLL) received a total of five bids from three qualified bidders – PetroChina, TotalEnergies and Vitol Bahrain. The tenders were originally invited for first and third week of June that was later moved to the last week.

PetroChina offered the cheapest spot cargoes at $23.968 and $22.498 per million British Thermal Unit (mmBtu) for June 1-2 and June 28-29 delivery windows, respectively. For first slot of June 1-2, the only other bid came from TotalEnergies at $25.77 per mmBtu.

For the second slot of June 28-29, a total of three bids were received with Vitol Bahrain offering $22.94per mmBtu and TotalEnergies $25.89 per mmBtu.

On April 29, PLL had received a bid from Vitol for a May 17-18 delivery window at $23.13 per mmBtu as the new coalition government stepped up fresh efforts for LNG imports to meet rising power demands in unusually higher summer temperaturs.

Earlier, the PLL had also confirmed four of seven spot cargoes it had sought for May and June through tender. It had, however, dropped a cargo for the May 17-18 window for being too expensive at $31.77 per mmBtu from Vitol. The decision worked well and the same company later offered a revised rate of $23.13 per mmBtu for the same delivery window in the second round emergency bid.

PLL is a public sector entity with a mandate from the government to procure LNG from international markets and deliver it to local gas supply companies — SSGCL and SNGPL — besides direct sales to Karachi-based private power utility — K-Electric.

With seven to eight cargoes mostly from Qatar, Pakistan’s average delivered LNG price has been around $11-12 but because of higher spot prices, the PLL has seldom accepted bids above $25 per mmBtu during the tenure of PTI government.

With this, Pakistan will have a total of 11 cargoes each in May and June including long term contracts with Qatar. This would mean the LNG terminal-1 operated by Engro would be operating almost at full capacity on Pakistan State Oil’s LNG cargos from Qatar while terminal-2 operated by Pakistan Gas Port will be processing 4-5 cargoes each in May and June, including two under long term contract from Qatar and three spot cargoes secured by PLL.

Pakistan was already in the grip of power shortages ranging between three to seven hours per day until last month as the PTI government hesitated ordering spot LNG tenders while long-term suppliers defaulted on almost a dozen in winters amid volatile world market.

The authorities have also been struggling to arrange furnace oil to make up for the LNG gap but in the process the additional monthly fuel cost adjustments had more than doubled over the reference prices, resulting in up to Rs6 per unit additional electricity costs in the recent months. Against firm power sector demand of up to 900 million cubic feet, the gas companies have been struggling to meet even half of that, causing country wide power cuts.

Soon after coming to power, the coalition government, however, adopted an aggressive LNG tendering stance and has since secured a total of about seven additional cargoes for two months —May and June — to contain power outages that have again resurfaced after a week-long gap of Eid holidays.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022

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