ISLAMABAD: Petroleum Division on Thursday told a parliamentary panel that there was no option but natural gas rationing in the coming winter in view of the increasing shortage every year.
Testifying before the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum, Additional Secretary Incharge Capt (retd) Muhammad Mahmood made it clear that every effort would be made to ensure gas supply to domestic consumers for three hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and three hours in the evening.
“There would be no gas supply (to household consumers) for 16 hours,” he said, adding that natural gas was scarce in the country and the coming winter was quite difficult in terms of gas availability and hence could be provided only three times a day to domestic consumers for cooking.
The meeting of the committee presided over by Amir Talal Gopang was also told that local gas production was declining at the rate of 10pc every year and there would be no indigenous gas supply after 10 years if the situation continued.
16-hour loadshedding planned for domestic consumers, NA panel told
Regarding the diversion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to household sector as had been the practice in the past, the secretary petroleum said the authorities could not purchase expensive LNG and sell it cheaper and LNG was not available at higher rates either.
He said there were prospective areas in the country with gas deposits but the exploration was not possible due to security reasons. “There are no new discoveries of gas due to security risk and political instability, he added, explaining that instead of coming to Pakistan the big international petroleum companies were going to other low-risk countries in search of oil and gas.
Due to political instability, international oil and gas companies are not ready to invest here, Secretary Petroleum said and asked why would a company come for a year. These companies say after one year this government will not be in place, then what will happen to them, they asked.
He said Pakistan would have to depend on imported gas and there was a possibility that gas would get cheaper in the world market in four years and the government was trying to build infrastructure to import additional gas.
Regarding imports from Iran and Russia, the secretary said that due to international sanctions they cannot take gas from these two countries in the given circumstances. However, the government was taking steps to secure gas from alternative sources but the problem was that whichever countries the authorities talked to for gas supplies were under the influence of some other country but then hastened to add that such decisions were made at the political level and not by the ministry on its own.
Managing Director Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd told the committee that the gas load management plan for winter had been submitted to the Petroleum Division. He said priority would be given to domestic consumers for gas supply and would be cut to captive plants.
He said there could be gas supply problems in the areas of Karachi like Lyari, Keamari and other tail-end areas in SSGCL’s service area as there would be an estimated shortfall of 200-300 mmcfd of gas on the network during the winter season. He said the industries in Karachi would not be allowed to draw gas through pressure pumps.
Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2022