KARACHI: Minister of State for Petroleum Mus­adik Malik on Wednesday disclosed that natural gas cannot be supplied round the clock due to its depleting reserves in most parts of the country.

During a meeting with members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and later in a media talk, he said efforts were being made to ensure that gas supply remains unin­te­rrup­ted during sehri and iftar.

While rejecting reports that gas is being diverted to Punjab from Sindh despite its shortage in the south-eastern province, Mr Malik said he had been tasked to resolve the problem both in the domestic and industrial sectors.

He claimed that gas shortage had emerged due to its supply to the domestic sector of Balochistan.

“Our gas resources are depleting by 10 per cent every year. We have only 1,600mmcfd of gas left for the entire country while the demand is on the rise,” he added.

The government, he said, would ensure that poor households are provided gas on priority. However, he added, there would be a ban on new connections.

He recalled that Sindh had surplus gas until a few years ago, but currently it is facing a deficit due to a soaring demand.

Mr Malik pointed out that as compared with other provinces only Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa had surplus gas at the moment.

As regards gas loadshedding in the industrial sector, he said the crisis could be tackled by coming up with an expensive blend of natural gas and RLNG.

Mr Malik said he would again meet the industrial sector’s stakeholders on Thursday (today) to discuss a strategy to address the issue of gas shortage.

He hinted at signing an agreement with Russia for purc­­hase of crude this mon­th so that consumers could get cheaper fuel.

He was of the view that power tariff should be brought down to Rs15-20 per unit from the existing Rs42 to encourage people to meet their heating needs through electricity.

The businessmen expr­essed concerns over suspension of gas supply and said it is striking a crippling blow to the local production as well as exports.

They said industries cannot perform well due to gas and electricity shortages and high interest rates. They urged the minister to devise an effective strategy for overcoming gas shortage otherwise industries would close down, rendering thousands of people jobless.

The state minister also held a meeting with Paki­stan Petroleum Dea­lers Asso­cia­tion Chairman Abdul Sami Khan and discussed with him issues like deal­ers’ commission, down­­­w­ard trend in the sale of domestic oil products due to smuggled Iran­ian oil, Shell Pakistan’s franchise fees, structure/processing of sasta petrol scheme, etc.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2023

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