Only residential consumers could have gas supplies in the next two to three months while other sectors like power plants, fertiliser manufacturers and industrial and compressed natural gas (CNG) consumers will come under severe strain because of shutdown of several fields for annual maintenance.
Gas fields will start closing from the ongoing month and their maintenance will continue until October with the possibility that CNG stations in Punjab will be shut down in upcoming winter due to gas shortage, say sources. The country could also experience worst power outages in coming days.
According to officials of gas distributing companies, keeping in view the peak demand in winter and the commitment of utilities to supplying gas to different sectors, the Annual Turnaround (ATA) or maintenance of fields is usually carried out at the start of summer and ends before the beginning of winter.
In this period, the demand for gas remains comparatively lower as energy needs for heating purposes fall to insignificant levels.
However, officials said, because of acute electricity shortage, all maintenance scheduled for April, May, June and July was put off in an attempt to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to power producers.
Had it not been postponed, it would have resulted in adding to the miseries of consumers in the wake of gas shortage in the summer.
Officials pointed out that the two gas utilities operating in the country would manage the resultant gas shortage arising out of the planned field maintenance, through further curtailment of supplies to power, fertiliser, industrial and CNG sectors. The companies would act in line with provisions of the gas supply agreements and the priority set out in the load management programme.
“All these sectors will be informed about the load management plan to be adopted by the gas companies,” an official remarked.
Gas produced by exploration and production companies comes with impurities and associated elements like liquid content or hazardous gases, which need to be removed through processing before injection into the transmission and distribution network of gas utilities. Besides, compressors are also required to increase the pressure.
In addition to routine surveys, tests are also conducted on producing wells for maintenance to ensure continuous supplies. The processing plants and compressor units work for the entire year and must undergo annual maintenance as per services agreements with the equipment suppliers. The maintenance of processing plants in gas fields is undertaken on a yearly basis in an effort to ensure their smooth and efficient functioning, which not only averts any sudden failure and unscheduled outages, but also minimises the risk of accidents.
“The sole objective is to ensure uninterrupted running of machines in order to achieve optimisation of supplies, which is also a requirement of agreements with the vendors,” the official added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2014.
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