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Worsening natural gas crisis

December 19, 2012

THE adviser on petroleum and natural resources (PNR) has grossly mismanaged this very important ministry.

History will tell, and tell shortly, how much damage he has caused by first changing the board of directors and chief executives of some important corporations in his ministry by bringing his favourites and then micromanaging the decision-making. So much so that even allocation of gas, providing new connections and diverting gas from one sector to another are being done on his instructions.

Another scam that will open up is the purchase of dilapidated Progas LPG terminal for Rs2.8bn by the SSGC. A very bad investment decision, yet forced by the adviser on the SSGC. He now claims that by phasing out the closure of CNG he will divert gas to industry.

Even if he closes all the CNG, he will not have enough gas for the industry. Both utility companies know this but the adviser will not listen. Recently he went to Iran with an entourage giving an impression that he has successfully negotiated with Iran a $500m loan for pipeline construction.

The IP pipeline has fallen into serious snags. Even the consortium of banks that were officially selected as financial advisers, headed by the Bank of China, has shown it inability because all these banks will have their branches shut in the US because of the sanctions.

The natural gas shortages of the winter have already started to appear. Industry in Punjab is already on two days a week. The CNG in Punjab is perpetually closed due to a very shrewd move by the adviser through Ogra. Towns and villages in Sindh and Balochistan are burning wood for cooking as there is virtual clampdown on gas pressures.

The situation in Punjab is even worse. The results of the recent by-elections in Punjab should be an eye-opener for President Asif Ali Zardari. One of the major factors is and will be natural gas shortage.