CNG station closure: Court seeks explanation from petroleum ministry

Filling stations in Sindh being forced to close three days a week

Naeem Sahoutara July 07, 2015
Officials recently directed the owners to shut their filling stations for three days a week, which was causing heavy financial losses. STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court issued on Tuesday notices to the Ministry of Petroleum and others concerned, asking them to explain why compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station owners are allegedly being forced to stop their operations for three days in a week in the province instead of two days as notified earlier.

A division bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, demanded replies from the authorities in this regard by July 14.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by the owners of CNG stations, who said the Ministry of Petroleum had earlier notified a two-day closure for the filling stations.

Advocate Khawaja Azizullah said officials recently directed the owners to shut their stations for three days a week, which was causing heavy financial losses. Earlier, the ministry had issued a notification for the two-day closure, but this time there was no such notification issued.

He pleaded the court to direct the authorities concerned not to force the station owners for the three-day closure.

The judges directed its office to issue notices to all concerned by July 14 when the matter would be taken up again.

Pakistan’s gas consumption has surged to around seven billion cubic feet (bcf) per day against the stagnant supply of just 4bcf per day. While the rest of the country had been facing a severe shortage, which led to the closure of factories, the southern parts had remained immune until last year.

But the growing demand has forced Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to cut back on supplies to some residential areas in recent months.

Under the circumstances, the government has also been pushing the automobile sector to scale down gas consumption as power plants and factories have started facing severe shortages.

Industry people say that going forward Pakistan would be importing comparatively expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG), something that requires a major shift in the gas supply policy.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th,  2015.

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