SNGPL unearths gas theft at major mobile tower

Pakistan’s largest mobile operator strongly denies allegations

Shahram Haq September 12, 2023
SNGPL uncovers gas theft. PHOTO: FILE


In a startling development, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) has said on Monday, that it uncovered a significant case of gas theft at a mobile phone tower site operated by Pakistan’s largest mobile phone operator, Jazz, located in Karak, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province. SNGPL has recently launched an aggressive anti-gas theft campaign and has been actively seeking out areas where gas theft is occurring, resulting in the disconnection of many illegal connections and the recovery of millions of rupees. However, this case is unprecedented, marking the first instance of a major mobile tower site being involved in gas theft.

As per SNGPL, their teams raided the mobile phone tower site in Karak and discovered a generator running on an illegal gas connection, with gas being stolen from an eight-inch main gas pipeline through a 200-foot-long pipeline. The regional team promptly disconnected the illegal connection and took custody of the generator and other equipment. A First Information Report (FIR) has also been registered against Jazz at the local police station.

Jazz, in response to these allegations, has vehemently denied any involvement in gas theft. A spokesperson for Jazz stated that the company complies fully with all applicable laws and operates its network using legitimate electricity or fuel arrangements across the country. The spokesperson clarified that Jazz has established agreements with third-party vendors for generator fuelling at its sites as a backup power solution and does not use natural gas at any of its sites in Pakistan.

Furthermore, Jazz has initiated an internal investigation to gather more details about the specific site in question and will take appropriate action based on the investigation’s findings. The company warned against baseless allegations that could harm the reputation of a multinational company that has invested over $10.5 billion in Pakistan, said the spokesperson.

The discovery of gas theft at a mobile tower site underscores the serious issue of gas theft in Pakistan. Many areas in K-P are known for rampant gas and electricity theft, often posing security challenges for regional teams. However, the current drive has been backed by the country’s top authorities this time and, as a result, the team discovered gas theft at the said mobile tower site. SNGPL said its anti-theft drive aims to uncover more such cases in the future.

SNGPL’s Managing Director, Amer Tufail, also recently addressed the pressing issue of gas theft during a press conference. Tufail highlighted the decreasing local share of gas in the total energy system, with imports now constituting 50% of the gas supply. He emphasised the urgency of transforming energy consumption habits.

The MD also reported that SNGPL has filed 803 FIRs against gas theft over the past three years.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2023.

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