Ministry warns of impending gas crisis in winter months

Published September 28, 2022
Chairman Noor Alam Khan chairs a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy: NA Twitter
Chairman Noor Alam Khan chairs a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy: NA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The government on Tues­day warned of a gas crisis in the coming winters as the gap between demand and supply was increasing with each passing day.

“There is a sharp natural decline in the supply of gas. The country’s gas reserves are depleting at 10 per cent annually for many years, creating a gap between demand and supply in the country,” Petroleum Secretary Ali Raza Bhatti told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in his briefing.

The PAC met to review the Petroleum Division’s report for the year 2019-20.

Mr Bhatti apprised the meeting that the price of gas in the world had increased after the war began in Ukraine. At that moment, he said, gas prices were up by around four per cent. “Considering the market conditions, we cannot buy gas.”

PAC irked by unauthorised use of govt helicopters; seeks details of all dual nationals working in govt departments

However, he said the government is considering obtaining gas from other countries. “The prime minister had a special talk in Qatar during his recent visit, where a request for additional cargoes was on the agenda,” the petroleum secretary said, adding that the country was also in talks with Azerbaijan to secure gas supplies.

Most gas in Pakistan’s system was used by domestic consumers, he said, which was heavily subsidised by the government.

“Qatar is the most reliable supplier. Despite increasing demand in the market, Qatar has not stopped giving us LNG at $15 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), compared to the price of $60 per mmBtu that it was charging from other countries, the petroleum secretary said.

The PAC, headed by Noor Alam Khan, had sought details of Gas Infrastructure Develop­ment System defaulters from Sui Northern.

The committee directed gas companies to recover dues from defaulters within seven days, while instructing the government to immediately disconnect the connections of defaulters.

The meeting was informed that total outstanding amount of Gas Infrastructure Deve­lopment Cess (GIDC) was Rs452.73 billion as on June 30, of which Rs368.26bn was sub judice, Rs16.7bn was outstanding due to circular debt and the remaining Rs67.8bn was under recovery. The committee chairman also expressed displeasure over delays in the recovery process and ordered that recoveries from defaulters, especially CNG stations and fuel companies, be ensured.

The PAC also discussed a list of 1,800 officials — provided by the National Accoun­tability Bureau (NAB) — who had misused helicopters. “Government helicopters are not for jalsas (public gatherings) and processions,” the chairman observed.

“I am saying this to all the leaders. We are directing all four provinces to check misuse of aircraft, and collect charges from those who misused the aircraft — helicopters and airplanes,” Mr Khan said.

According to an official statement issued by the NA Secretariat after the meeting, the committee also expressed concern over the appointment of the chairperson Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, which repo­r­­­tedly was made in violation of existing rules.

The committee also advised the Establishment Division to ensure that all officials holding dual nationality should be kept away from policymaking and should only be offered consultant roles. The committee has also asked the division for a list of all officers working in various departments who hold dual nationality.

The PAC also recommended that while the facility of free air tickets for former and current PIA employees should continue, the entitlement should not extend to their family members.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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