Power outages in industrial areas of Karachi have disturbed the industrialists who say that electricity supply is cut by more than the scheduled time announced by the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC).
North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry Chairman Faraz Mirza said outages in his industrial area had stretched to eight hours a day.
KESC says it is not getting enough gas and furnace oil from Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to generate electricity, forcing it to resort to load management. “Getting gas or furnace oil is not our problem. We buy power at high rates compared to other KESC consumers, so we deserve uninterrupted supply,” Mirza stressed.
Average outages over the last few weeks were for one to two hours, which have now increased to eight hours, creating hurdles in continuous industrial production, he added.
SITE Association of Industry’s former chairman Saleem Parekh commented that there was more than four hours of power outages in the SITE industrial area, one of the biggest industrial zones of the country with over 4,000 industrial units.
More than 40 per cent industries in SITE needed uninterrupted power supply for 24 hours due to their continuous production process, Parekh said. “The biggest threat is faced by small and medium-size industries as they cannot afford the cost of running generators,” he said.
Big industries use expensive captive power plants that mostly run on cheap gas, which small industries cannot afford, he added.
When asked about eight hours of power outages, a KESC spokesperson said that the company resorted to four hours of outages in industrial zones, adding that the period may increase if the industries got power supply from feeders of residential areas where average duration of outages was six hours.
KESC says it needs at least 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas to produce enough power for the city and right now it is said to be getting 120 mmcfd owing to low supply from SSGC.
SSGC had announced annual turnaround (ATA) at one of the major gas fields from April 12 to May 4 owing to which industrial associations of Karachi had agreed to voluntarily reduce gas consumption by 15-20 per cent.
An SSGC spokesperson hoped that the company would restore full gas supply before May 4, the date given by the company to complete ATA of Bhit gas field. “The worst is over and full gas supply will resume in two to three days,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2011.