Winter blues: Minister warns of acute gas shortage

Govt designing policy to increase supply.


Express November 05, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain informed the senate on Friday that consumers would face severe gas load shedding in winter due to inadequate supply of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas from December to March.  

“All provinces will be equally affected by the shortage,” said Hussain in reply to a question. “Demand for gas stands at 8 billion cubic feet while production is around 4.2 billion cubic feet.” Responding to another question, he said a new petroleum exploration and production policy is being designed to enhance oil and gas exploration activities in the country. “Under the new policy additional incentives will be provided to investors.” The petroleum ministry has granted 133 exploration licences for exploration of oil and gas and efforts are being made to extract these resources within the next few years, he added.

Responding to a supplementary question by JUI-F Senator Azam Swati, Dr Asim Hussain said the government is pursuing an aggressive policy to import liquefied natural gas and LPG and bolster local production of gas to mitigate people’s hardship. The ministry will also import gas from Iran through the gas pipeline project to meet its growing energy requirements, he added. “The government is aware of the circular debt issue and hopes it will be able to settle it soon.”

Facilities for pilgrims

Leader of the house Nayyar Hussain Bokhari informed senators that two hospitals of 35 and 15 beds each have been set up in Makkah and Medina besides 17 dispensaries to provide medical facilities to Pakistani pilgrims. Medicines worth Rs20 million have been dispatched to Saudi Arabia. He said a toll-free number has also been activated in the kingdom for feedback to ensure timely intervention in case of a problem.

Motion on substandard food

Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek admitted an adjournment motion moved by Jamat-e-Islami Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmed on the loss of billions of rupees on substandard food items for further discussion. These items were reportedly distributed among flood victims in Sindh and Balochistan. A news item published in a section of the press stated that the government lost Rs1.7 billion by purchasing spoilt wheat and rice. Food Minister Israrullah Zehri did not oppose the motion.  Naek said the motion would be debated within a couple of weeks in a committee meeting.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th,  2011.

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