Pakistan's hub of economic activities, Karachi, continued to face prolonged power outages on Wednesday that badly crippled industrial output at a time when the economy is poised to recover from the historic Covid-19 depression.
K-Electric, the sole power production, transmission and distribution firm responsible to supply power across the city of ports and other parts of Sindh and Balochistan, failed to meet the energy needs as it cited low gas pressure as reason for the outages.
It has held the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSSGC) responsible for the power crisis, saying the firm is not providing the agreed quantity of gas.
Meanwhile, the SSGC said they have already informed K-Electric regarding low supplies in advance and advised it to adopt alternate solutions like running power plants on coal, furnace oil and/or diesel.
In the blame-game between the two utility firms, industrial, commercial and residential consumers are paying a high cost and losing businesses to the regional and global competitors.
“Gas shortage in Karachi is directly due to government of Sindh not giving Right of Way for a new SSGC line. Have been after Sindh government since the last 1.5 years but they have not budged. We are already giving 100 mmcfd RLNG to K-Electric and need the new line for additional supply,” Federal Minister for Power, Petroleum & Natural Resources Omar Ayub Khan said on his Twitter handle.
A K-Electric spokesperson, in a video message, said “The low supplies of gas have impacted power production and supplies to our consumers.”
Three out of K-Electric's four gas-fired power plants are operating at under capacity due to the low gas pressure. "It is a must to provide the required quantity of the gas at the required gas pressure so that we can increase power production and supplies," she added.
The short supplies and low gas pressure have impacted power production of 250-300 megawatt at K-Electric. Accordingly, the firm may manage short supplies of power through load-shedding, she said.
“We are constantly in contact with the SSGC management to overcome the issue," she said.
SSGC spokesperson said they are facing low supplies of gas from fields. Despite this, SSGC is supplying 170-180 mmcfd to K-Electric against its demand for 220-230 mmcfd.
Gas supplies from five fields have either depleted or reduced to zero to SSGC. This is giving an additional shortfall of 150-160 mmcfd to SSGC for the last one-week to 10 days. With this, the supplies have reduced to 960-970 mmcfd, he said.
At the same time, demand for gas is on rise from Quetta with turning of weather to cold there, he said.
"The gas shortfall would increase ahead of the changing weather in other SSGC serving areas of Sindh and Balochistan," he said.
The shortfall may increase by up to 250-300 mmcfd in the weeks and months to come, he said.