‘LNG imports avert repeat of energy crisis’

Published: October 10, 2019
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Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has saved Pakistan from a massive energy crisis, which the country faced a few years ago, said a key government official.

“If we take LNG out of the system, a similar situation (energy crisis) faced in 2009 will emerge,” Petroleum Division Secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin told the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum on Wednesday.

He warned that massive load-shedding would start again if LNG imports were stopped.

In 2009, when the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government was in power, the country faced its worst energy crisis, which eventually resulted in election loss for the PPP in 2013 and brought Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to power.

The PML-N government started importing LNG for the first time in Pakistan in order to cope with the widening energy shortages. However, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is now in the custody of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the LNG case.

The petroleum secretary told the parliamentary body that LNG was imported in line with the demand placed by the power producers.

Officials of the Petroleum Division pointed out that gas production in the country stood at 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) against total demand for 6 bcfd. The country was importing 1.2 bcfd of LNG to meet domestic requirement.

Senator Nauman Wazir denounced the government for importing LNG without proper planning. He alleged that domestic gas production was reduced to make way for additional LNG imports, which led to the packing of pipeline network of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL).

He was of the view that LNG imports were more than the actual demand for the commodity in the country. Wazir also raised the issue of appointment of executive directors in Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC), saying that the directors were not qualified but were drawing millions of rupees in salaries.

The committee sought details of the executive directors and their perks and privileges.

Wazir also said OGDC was being run on an ad hoc system and its permanent chief executive officer had not been appointed in the past five years. The current OGDC board of directors picked the candidates which were selected by the previous board one year ago.

The issue of regularising some of the employees appointed under the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan programme also came up for discussion.

These employees were hired on contract and were not being regularised. OGDC managing director informed the committee that 85 employees had been hired before the introduction of the Balochistan package.

He said nine engineers had been given jobs under the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan, adding that the Supreme Court had given a ruling that the employees should be regularised following a test and interview.

Senator Wazir demanded that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Oil and Gas Development Company should be given 25% share in the oil and gas reserves. However, the petroleum secretary countered that provinces could not get a share in such a way.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2019.

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