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Gas stoppage: Industrial production suffers

January 06, 2013

— File photo

KARACHI: A large number of units in six major industrial clusters of the city and those in Lasbela, Balochistan were unable to run their production lines on Saturday due to closure of gas supply by Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd (SSGCL).

Export orders worth million of dollars are unlikely to find their way to ports as they lie in various manufacturing and processing stages following the gas loadshedding.

The pathetic condition of the industry could well be judged from the fact that most of the leaders contacted by Dawn were extremely perturbed. Many went on to say they are now seriously considering the possibility of relocating their units to regional countries including Middle East.

In the past, weekly closure of gas supply to industry in Sindh and Balochistan was on Sundays but the sudden announcement by the SSGC late on Friday for two days closure i.e. Saturday and Sunday took the industry by surprise.

“Since Sui Gas issued the shut down circular for two weekly days late on Friday, many industrial units on Saturday began their production operations in routine manner. Consequently, huge production losses are being caused to the industry but also a large number of daily wagers have to lose their livelihood as they were asked to go back homes without getting any remunerations,” said Chairman Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) Mohammad Zubair Chaya.

Highly critical of the indifferent attitude of the government, he bemoaned the power crisis, adding that the industry was on the verge of collapse.

“In order to catch up with weekly shipping schedule of Monday, most of the export oriented industry finalises the export orders on Saturdays but thanks to SSGC, this could not be done because the industry was taken by surprise as closure notice was given late on Friday,” he added.

Chairman F B Area Association of Trade and Industry Mohammad Haroon Shamsi said that increase in period of gas and power outages for the industry is disastrous, particularly for exports.

Referring to the issue of demand and supply of gas, he said: “It is totally wrong to say that there is any gap. As a matter of fact it is purely an issue of mismanagement.”

Former chairman SITE Association Super Highway Mehtabuddin Chawla maintained that there seems to be no gas shortage or spur in gas demand expect that it was not being handled properly to meet national priorities.

In support of his argument, he said, a report recently revealed that SSGC is receiving 950 to 1,166 million cubic feet gas (mmcfd) per day while its demand is 1,300 mmcfd. In our opinion, he said, 1,050 mmcfd is sufficient to operate industries smoothly because SSGC hardly get 250mmcfd short supply.

He further said that closure of gas supply to fertiliser units for 45 days starting January 1, 2012 would save around 60mmcfd for the SSGC and this will enhance gas volume in its system.

Chawla said long closure of industry owing to gas stoppage will adversely hit export shipments at a time when Heimtextil Frankfurt Fair 2013 is about to be held.

“Buyers participating in the world’s largest textile fair will raise this issue with Pakistani exporters to ensure timely delivery of shipments,” he added.

“Continuous gas outage to industry will also hurt its status to avail duty free access for textiles to European Union and it may also have become hurdle in getting GSP-plus status to be received from EU in coming days,” he commented.

Dr Arshad Vohra chairman of the largest industrial estate of the country SITE Association looked totally disappointed with the situation and said it was waste to raise any issue because ‘there is no one listening or even coming up to salvage the sinking industry’.