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.