The world is currently facing a global energy crisis, which began in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic as shortages and price hikes on oil, gas and electricity hit countries around the world severely. The factors that led to this include labour shortages, global disputes, decrease in demand, and climate change. Then the sudden outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine and leaks in the Nord Stream pipeline aggravated the situation.
Countries heavily dependent on fossil fuel as the primary source of energy haven’t responded well to this and efforts to curtail the crisis in their own backyards have largely been ineffectual. The same has been the case with Pakistan. Ironically, gas shortages have been an annual phenomenon each winter as Pakistan’s natural gas fields have been witnessing a 9% depletion each year. Reliance on importing LNG has intensified as a result, and experts predict that import bill could surpass $30 billion by 2030. Moreover, securing gas from Qatar is now becoming cumbersome as confidence in payments has decreased and Russia’s pipeline burst has resulted in greater burden in the Middle East region. The 12 cargo shipments of LNG that Pakistan requires will not be met in the coming month, leaving officials no choice but to cut 50% supply of gas to captive power plants. Thus, there will be no CNG in Punjab and K-P during the winter season. While the government’s decision of not slashing supply of gas to the fertiliser and domestic sector is indeed welcome, other alternatives such as pursuing the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline must be sought.
Energy shortages will hit the economy adversely by putting pressure on essential industries. Therefore, indigenous gas production must be ramped and alternative sources of energy included into the overall energy distribution mix to provide relief.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2022.
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