A rock and a hard place: KESC blames PSO, SSGC as residents wilt in the heat

The blackout was widely discussed as text messages circulated.

Irfan Aligi June 08, 2011


With the mercury on the rise, residents of Karachi were in for a rude shock as the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) resorted to unannounced load shedding for long periods on Wednesday. While warnings of a blackout were forwarded in an SMS, not many people were prepared for the duration. Most areas went without power for up to eight hours.

KESC blamed Pakistan State Oil and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) for stopping the supply of gas and furnace oil, adding that this situation forced them to increase the duration of load shedding.

The demand for electricity has reached 2,500 megawatts (MW) and KESC says it is unable to meet the requirement. However, it remains reluctant to share with consumers how much electricity it produces and how many power-generating plants are being run.

A spokesperson had earlier sent a mass message to journalists saying that PSO and SSGC were responsible for the problem. However, despite repeated efforts to ascertain this information, KESC did not disclose its present capacity for power production.

The spokesman said that KESC is currently paying PSO Rs300 million in cash for furnace oil each day. SSGC had supplied 300 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas in 2009 but this went down to 230 mmcfd and 180 mmcfd in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

According to a KESC engineer, they can buy at least 250 MW from independent power producers Gul Ahmed and Tapal as both have a built-in capacity of 126 MW each. However, KESC is only buying 50 to 60 MW from them. The National Transmission and Distribution Company (NTDC) provides 650 to 750 MW a day, claimed the engineer.

KESC said in a press release that KANUPP has still not resumed its supply while IPP Gul Ahmed is also not generating electricity because of an oil shortage. The low gas pressure is also limiting and affecting power generation by KESC’s gas turbines.

Its indigenous capacity to produce electricity is around 1,800 MW but right now production is limited to 400 to 600 MW daily.

An SSGC spokesman told The Express Tribune that they are currently supplying 172 mmcfd and KESC owes them Rs27 billion.

A PSO spokeperson told The Express Tribune that KESC’s credit limit is 50,000 metric tonnes of furnace oil a month. The credit limit is worth Rs3.5 billion while KESC has to pay PSO an outstanding amount of Rs7.66 billion

PSO pumped 5,000 metric tonnes of furnace oil into KESC’s hold on Tuesday and 2,500 metric tonnes on Monday. KESC has not sent any requisition for the furnace oil to be supplied on Wednesday yet, said the spokesperson.


Meanwhile, KESC continued to fight off attacks. On Wednesday afternoon, a group of union miscreants attacked a maintenance team near Delhi Colony that was heading towards Clifton Blocks 8 and 9 to attend public complaints.

The distribution office at Akhtar Colony was attacked and an RPD team was threatened near Tariq Road. Other attacks were reported outside Jamia Binoria in SITE.

During construction work at Azimpura Road in Shah Faisal Town, city government staff pick-axed the main cable of the PIA Hangar circuit which caused issues in a wide linked area of the airport.

Another KESC team, while locating cable faults in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on public complaints found out on Wednesday that three main underground cables were pick-axed by the water and sewerage board staff while digging for sewerage near Fancy Heights.

The area connected to these cables was affected on a wide scale and had already provoked the residents to stage protest at Abul Hasan Ispahani Road.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2011.


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