Countrywide gas holiday


Agencies April 27, 2010

LAHORE: Gas stations in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were closed on Tuesday because of a one-day suspension of supply by the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) every week beginning on Tuesday (April 27), while CNG stations and industries not operating round-the-clock in Sindh and Balochistan would be shut from next week.

According to SSGC officials, the gas consumption of the fertiliser sector will be reduced by 20 per cent, saving 10mmcfd of gas. The decisions were made at separate meetings between stakeholders and officials of the SNGPL and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), respectively, in Lahore and Karachi. It was also decided that industries working 24/6 days in Sindh would be shut down for one day a week on a staggered basis, saving an additional 40mmcfd of gas. The closure affected over 1,000 gas stations in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, CNG stations remained open in Swat on Tuesday, in violation of government directives.

The concept of a “gas holiday” was introduced as part of the national power saving campaign. Two committees have been formed, comprising SSGC’s deputy managing director and chairmen of CNG associations to decide the day for the shutdown. Another committee, comprising Chairman of the KATI Razzak Hashim Paracha, Nisar Shekhani and SSGC’s deputy managing director, will list industries working on 24/6 to ensure staggered closure of gas supply. The All Pakistan CNG Association has criticised the decision, saying that the shutdown was not the solution to the energy crisis.

“This needs firm and long-term planning.” In Islamabad, Chairman of the Association Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha said that the CNG shutdown was not a solution to energy crisis. “It needs firm long term planning,” Online news agency quoted him as saying. The CNG sector used only seven per cent of the country’s total gas consumption, which “can generate only 100MW, bridging just two per cent of the power shortage in the country of 5,500MW”. He said that the decision will free 25 MMCF every week. He said that he did not see any public benefit of the decision.

About 2.6 million vehicles “are running on CNG and about 25 million people will be directly affected, stopping at least a million CNG-run vehicles”. He said that the CNG sector “has no other option…Its business depends on natural gas”. He appealed to the prime minister to announce the CNG policy, which has been pending “a long time”. “Let us join to solve the energy crisis.” According to PPI, owners of CNG stations in Sindh and Balochistan expressed concern over the grim situation and said the policy should be applied equally to all. He said their association would see if there was any real relief to people in terms of power supply.

“If people are still found to be suffering power cuts after the disconnection to gas stations, we will review their decision.” Our Lahore Correspondent adds: Long queues of vehicles were observed on Monday night at CNG stations as people tried to get fuel. Many people either had to run their vehicles on petrol on Tuesday or were grounded because of the suddenness of the implementation of the decision. According to the SNGPL, the saved gas would be diverted to power stations, enabling them to produce 100 megawatts extra.

The power shortage, in the meantime, crossed 4,500MW. There are around two million vehicles in both provinces. “It is a strange act of government that it is ready to spend extra Rs 100 million to produce only 100 MW,” said a vehicle owner Abas Ali, adding that the closure disturbed at least two million CNG consumers.

COMMENTS (2)

Aeronaut | 10 years ago | Reply Our problem is not shortage of power, but the people in power. We voted these despicable people in, and next time we will vote the other evil, the traitor, Saudi's lapdog. Neither PPP nor PML would befriend Iran for their own pathetic and nefarious reasons. PPP wont befriend Iran because Iran won't bribe Mr 10%, and PML's beauty queen won't befriend Iran because that would make the puppet master wahabi saudi kings unhappy. We are getting exactly what we deserve. We are a corrupt nation of liars and thieves and things will only get worse. God I miss Musharraf's era.
Energy technologist | 10 years ago | Reply There have been alot of talk. From hydro to wind to wave. The problem with pakistan is that, none of these options are going to work. Pakistan is a small country compared to its population. hydro dams aside from being expensive in an effectively bankrupt country, drown large amounts of precious land, so Pakistan can not meet all of its energy needs by hydro generation. wind, solar and wave technologies are not proven and are expensive toys which hardly contribute a few percentage of power demands in the most rich and technologically superior countries so Pakistan should not gamble on these toys and spend its precious money on them. Coal power plants are a very attractive option, since pakistan has coal reserves to provide its energy needs for several dozen years, but they are dirty and generally any kind of power plants are not cheap. A 1,000 MW plant costs upwards of a billion euroes, and that is only the price of the plant and does not include a billion dollar more needed to develop a large enough mine to feed coal for the plant. Nuclear plants cost several times more and can cost upto 10 billion dollars for a 1,200 MWh. Pakistan does not have the technology to make nuclear power plant and currently no other country also wants to sell nuclear plants to Pakistan due to terrorism problem. Pakistan as of now is short by 6,000 MW and as the population grows and people's expectations shoot up and half of Pakistan that is right now not connected to electric grid, become connected, You can imagine how many plants Pakistan has to make. Also it takes anywhere between 4 years for a small coal plant to 12 years for a large dam or nuclear plant to be built. Right now facilities like airconditioners and computers are used by less than 20% of pakistan and most of the economy is based on ancient agricultural techniques. If pakistan is ever to become modern and industrialized then it needs, at least 1 Kilowatt hour capacity for every person. With a current estimated population of 180 million that comes to 180 thousand Megawatt hour capacity. Pakistan has now just 20 thousand. With growing population Pakistan would need more than 360 thousand MWh of energy by 2050, when Pakistan's population hits 360 million. So what is the solution. Pakistan does not have money and technology to develop its own plants. Independent power producers and private generating units are also not a long term option as they are thieves selling the same electricity in Pakistan for up to 45 US cents per kilowatt hour as compared to 5 cents in Canada and United States, under the pretext of investment in a risky terrorist infested country. Only one option remains, which is fortunately for Pakistan is both very cheap and reliable as well as least time consuming. The option has only one glitch, and that is, it will accompany the wrath of USA. That option is Iran. Iran can provide Pakistan with almost unlimited amount of natural gas which is much cheaper than the prevailing LNG prices in the world. Also Iran has a very developed electricity generation system and has offered Pakistan to meet the entire Pakistani shortage of electricity by offering the subsidized rate of 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Iran has even offered to build the entire transmission lines to Pakistan entirely with its own money and expertise on a record time of 14 months. If Pakistan just says ok. there will be no load shedding by the next summer. It is a very brilliant option both economically as well as security wise. Economically Pakistan will get as much power as it needs comparatively cheaply, and can spend its little money on developing industries and other needed infra structure instead of building power plants. And since Pakistan is going to be dealing with a government that is the brotherly government of Iran, Pakistan will no more need to play a slave to IPP's. These kind of arrangements are immensely successful and promote peace and prosperity, for example almost all of the countries in continental Europe buy their power from France and Germany. But alas our leaders are too afraid of US. They have not learnt anything from Turkey which is in a similar situation to Pakistan being an American client. But Turkey despite being a client has defined its red lines with USA regarding its national security. So Turkey buys both gas and electricity from Iran, and Americans understand that Turkish people will not listen to them in these regards unless USA could satisfy their energy needs instead of Iran. But since USA can not even satisfy its own energy needs and has to import energy itself then Turks buy cheap energy from Iran. Pakistan could do the same if it had the guts to tell Americans that either they should meet the national energy needs by the next summer or that Iranians will be invited to take care of our problem. It is a choice Pakistan has to make today and not tomorrow. Iran is pakistan's only option. And pakistan is lucky that its only option is in the lap of a brotherly country which is not only trustworhty but also eagerly willing to help out. Pakistan should not die of energy starvation while its brother is willing to feed it.
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