Petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain said the divisive Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project will kick-off before the cessation of the current government despite all foreign and domestic pressures.
Adviser to the Prime Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Hussain, during his visit to the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma), said Pakistan was facing many challenges and pressures as the poor nation had always stayed divided among the same issues.
Hussain, on the occasion, announced 36 hours of gas supply in a week to the industrial sector of Punjab during the winter.
“We will start the project soon with the help of Iran as they have committed to provide $500 million for the project, with some technical support.”
Punjab’s industries are facing the brunt of the energy crisis.
He said that reasons for the prevailing energy crisis was not mismanagement, as understood by many, but wrong political decisions of the past as equal distribution of energy resources to provinces is a must for economic and industrial growth.
He went on to say that Punjab had huge reserves of shale gas, which we will start to drill as soon as energy-related policies have been established.
Hussain, however, said that gas consumers (domestic, commercial or industrial) will continue to face crisis till end of winter 2014. “Pakistan will exit the crisis phase soon, after which the masses will witness a better scenario than the present one,” he added.
“Pakistan’s total gas consumption is eight billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), whereas our total production is half – only four bcfd. The shortfall will be bridged in the coming years by addition of new wells, liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports and completion of the IP gas pipeline project,” he said.
The plan to bridge the shortfall through LNG imports will significantly increase the gas tariff for all consumers. The present tariff is cheap and the government is giving a subsidy of Rs300 for consumers who consume up to 300 units of gas.
Gas companies have expanded gas pipelines network by 200 kilometre (km) this year, which will add up the gas burden of 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) in the system. Next year, the consumption and pipelines network expansion will be at the same pace and grow simultaneously, Hussain added.
As far as the issue of compressed natural gas (CNG) stations was concerned, he said that up to 80% of CNG station owners had taken a stay order and were not paying any tax. The long queues of vehicles are not due to the gas shortage but due to the increased demands of CNG especially after the fixing of new prices, which are much cheaper than petrol, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.
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