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KESC warns of outages: Protests erupt over gas shortage

January 05, 2013

KARACHI, Jan 5: Violent protests broke out on Saturday in some parts of the city where domestic consumers faced suspension of gas supply amid a worsening gas crisis, causing the Sui Southern Gas Company to drastically reduce the supply to the Karachi Electric Supply Company.

Protesters took to the streets against the shortage in Malir, Surjani Town, Keamari, Lines Area and Numaish. They placed burning tyres on M.A. Jinnah Road suspending traffic for several hours.

Lines Area residents complained that gas supply to a majority of homes had been suspended since Thursday evening and the situation only turned worse on Friday.

While senior police officers intervened to bring normality to the affected areas, the tense situation caused Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain to tell a press conference that the gas shortage being experienced by domestic consumers in Karachi would end by Monday.

“This kind of problem arises during the winter season, but we have tried to keep it under control by suspending gas supply to the industry for 48 hours and for 72 hours to the CNG stations before that,” the adviser said, while speaking at a press conference held at the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) head office on Saturday evening.

Referring to the severe gas shortage in various areas of Karachi, especially, Lines Area, Baloch Colony, Orangi Town, PECHS and phases V, VI and VII of Defence Housing Authority, Dr Hussain said: “After gas supply to the CNG stations was resumed, there is a rush to fill up car cylinders there. The long queues that you see are really responsible for the sudden drop in pressure.”

“Another reason for this,” he said, “is the old lines laid for gas supply. These 30- to 40-year-old lines are overlapping each other with no maps. “Places in the city such as the Lines Area have so many high-rise buildings adding to the demand. The problem is that the connections were given without looking at how much gas could be supplied to them. So the demand became more than the supply,” the adviser explained.

“But we are taking emergency measures to remedy this by putting in 60-metre-loop lines to create bypasses where the pressure is falling,” he said.

As an additional measure to fix the problem in the meantime, the SSGC curtailed supply to the KESC. About the KESC, it was said that they owed the SSGC around Rs40 billion. While supply to the power utility could not be cut altogether because it would inadvertently effect the citizens of Karachi, the supply had been reduced, it was said. As a result of the curtailment, the KESC has warned of increasing power loadshedding across the city.

The power utility requested the SSGC to immediately increase the supply to the KESC as the generation capacity of the KESC gas turbines has been greatly affected.“The current gas supply to the KESC is at a ‘dead-level’ of 80 MMCFD [million cubic feet a day],” said power utility officials.

They said: “Electricity generated through furnace oil is 350 per cent more expensive when compared to gas-based generation.”