The reason is simple. We consume more and produce less gas. The domestic market has expanded at fast pace in last two decades than the new discoveries of gas reserves. Now we are forced to rely heavily on the imported LNG and LPG. Our policy makers never planned to meet the increased demand from alternate sources. The gas we produce in Pakistan is not enough to meet the demand.
When everybody including the government and gas companies knows that the demand of natural gas increased in winter as temperatures drops than why the arrangements were not made to meet the demand. This is not something that happening for the first time. It happens every year. We know that consumption increases during the winter months as domestic consumption shots up.
The domestic consumers use gas geezers to warm the water and heaters to warm the houses. The increased consumption creates huge gap between demand and supply. The imported LPG and LNG fill the gap. The PML-N government averted the severe crisis of gas with the imported LNG. There was no severe crisis in the last years of PML-N government due to the imported LNG.
Now the question arises here that what steps the ministry of petroleum took to avert the gas crisis. Is the government justified to simply blame the extreme winter for this crisis. In my view- the current crisis is the result of ill-planning- incompetence and poor management. The government can only blame itself for the current crisis.
Now the government has also decided to shut down Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations across Punjab and capital Islamabad from December 28 to January 10. The chairman of Sindh Industrial and Trading State Area said maladministration of Sui Southern Gas Company has caused heavy losses to the industry. He also announced to hold a protest on January 1 at the Sindh Governor House.
Already facing power shortage, people are forced to rely on alternative sources of gas. Meanwhile, industrialists have decided to shut down their factories in Karachi in the wake of worsening gas crisis.
Not only the domestic consumers are suffering due to gas shortage and low pressure but also the industrial consumers. From industrial production to cooking at home has been badly affected.
Since last year the government has increased the gas prices for more than hundred percent and now the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has asked the government to increase prices for gas consumers by up to 221 percent to take effect as of January 1. The government is under pressure to increase the prices of gas under the IMF conditions. The government has to increase gas prices under the IMF pressure which affects domestic consumers.
The expensive gas is not only affecting Pakistan’s industry, but has made the life of domestic consumer miserable. The increasing gas prices will not be able to control the gas crisis. The domestic consumers in Pakistan are already under heavy economic burden and regular increase in gas and electricity crisis would add to their woes.
The government should look for cheap and feasible solutions to overcome energy crisis. The import of Irani gas through a pipeline is the cheapest possible solution. But American sanctions against Iran hampered this project. Pakistan has to complete Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project to overcome energy crisis.
Seasonal factors include the collection of condensate — a form of oil — in the pipelines in winter, manifold increase in domestic consumption, aging distribution network, illegal compressors installed on the pipelines and so on. Structural problems that are pulling down the sector are rampant theft and distribution losses of close to 13%.
The domestic sector is not alone in wasting this depleting resource through the use of uncertified, inefficient and low-quality geysers, heaters and stoves. Our industry and power producers using gas to generate electricity through captive power plants are also contributing hugely to the waste. Same is the case with the transport sector.
Experts often blame the expansion in the size of the domestic consumer network for political reasons as a major cause for the country’s gas woes. At present, around 30pc of the total population is getting gas through the pipeline network of the two gas companies. Their number is growing. In contrast, the domestic production of gas is decreasing. Even though gas discoveries are consistently being made, they are small and expensive to handle. The demand gap has grown to 2,000-3,000mmcfd as the local production has depleted to less than 4,000mmcfd. The gap is partially being met through expensive LNG imports of nearly 1,000-1,100mmcfd.
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