Total shortfall of gas has increased to 600 milion metric cubic feet per day as a result of sudden temperature drop on Sunday. This may compel SNGPL (Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited) and SSGC (Sui Southern Gas Company) to stop supply for all sectors other than the domestic one.
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Prime Minister Special Assistant on Information briefed media on the issue during a press conference on Sunday in Sialkot. She said that the government has directed smooth supply of gas to the domestic customers even at the cost of CNG sector.
It is a dilemma that in past years the federal government and the gas utilities have paid little attention to exploration of natural gas, checking and managing the theft and leakage of gas, importing the required LNG, (specially for Sindh) as well as controlling the use of compressor by the consumers. On the other hand demand has increased much and the repeated warnings by weather experts about the climate changes have been ignored as well.
Supply to domestic consumers as well as the CNG sector has been disturbed since last several days
Senior officials of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited claim that major reasons behind the shortfall are gas theft in various sectors of Punjab and KPK. He said, “Half of the total volume of the gas being produced in KP (400MMCFD) is being stolen by the people of the areas close to gas fields. They have their own networks to steal gas, claiming it a matter of their right as the gas is being extracted from their areas”.
The official added: “The gas available with us ranges between 950 and 970MMCFD. We are also receiving around 1,020MMCFD RLNG (Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas) in our system. “But the demand is rising fast, forcing us to stop gas supply to the industry and the CNG sector to accommodate about six million domestic consumers in Punjab and KP.”
Pakistan is the 5th most affected country by the rapid changing weather
“The intensity of winter we are facing these days is very harsh, pushing up demand in all provinces”. He warned, “The situation appears to be going out of control despite giving 20 per cent more gas to domestic consumers”. He also said that another major reason for shortfall is the use of compressors by the consumers in low pressure areas.
A senior official from SSGC said: “Initially we had stopped the supply to the CNG sector, but the issue did not resolve. We requested the industry to at least stop using gas meant for captive power plants, but they didn’t listen, rendering the utility helpless in giving relief to the domestic consumers.”
He added that SSGC has faced a shortfall of 400MMCFD due to supplying gas to Sindh & Balochistan, since the current demand increased to 1,500MMCFD. SSGC does not try to import LNG to cover the gap between demand & supply due to the fact that they depend on natural gas supply from various gas fields in Sindh and Balochistan.
Another SSGC official complained about the issues of land acquisition & the right of way to lay two pipelines to extract gas from the new fields. He explained that the utility is approaching relevant authorities and seeking for their cooperation to overcome the crisis.
He also said that SSGC wants to start importing LNG for overcoming the shortage but Federal Government has not permitted to do so.