ISLAMABAD: On Monday, the government declared that it would sever the supply of gas to CNG, followed by captive power plants in the non-export market and then in the winter by the general industry in the event of a gas deficit.
Speaking at a news conference with Oil Minister Omar Ayub Khan, Nadeem Babar, Special Assistant to the Petroleum Prime Minister, said the decision to that effect was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) on Monday, to be taken by the Federal Cabinet on Tuesday for ratification.
The gas load management strategy was prepared about two months ago and submitted for approval to the CCoE, he added. The CCoE, however, directed that gas supply to export sectors should not be stopped because after diversion from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, etc., extra orders had come their way that should not be disrupted due to the problem of natural gas.
The CCoE had also given two more orders, which he did not clarify. A updated proposal was submitted to the CCoE under these directions, which approved it and will now be presented to the federal cabinet for approval on Tuesday.
Under the load control scheme, in the event of disruptions, the source of gas must first be disconnected from the CNG market, then from the non-export captive facilities, supplemented by the general industry. He said that in the event of a serious gas shortage, the export industries will be the last choice, but added that such a condition would not exist except from Dec 20 to Jan 10.
At the same time, he said that the gas pressure at the tail-end of the pipeline system could decrease. In response to a query regarding a nine-month gas supply deal with the sector, he said the government had agreed not to sever the supply of gas to factories for three months this year.
Minister Omar Ayub Khan said the previous government had set the future of the country at risk and left landmines, particularly in the energy sector, for the PTI government, which it was still trying to resolve. He said the former prime minister was now alleging Rs1 trillion of circular debt in the gas sector to the new government, which had left around Rs350 billion of circular debt behind by not raising gas prices for nearly 18 months despite the approval of the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority only to gain a few votes.
He reported that the previous government had diverted Rs80bn intended for Pakistan State Oil to the Nandipur Power Project’s fuel supplies and other needs, blocked cheaper clean energy projects and encouraged imported fuel-based power plants by flawed agreements instead.
For selfish gain, they ruined the country’s potential when the new government was attempting to eliminate all those pilferages. The previous government also did not invest in the electricity transmission grid, he added, while the new government spent Rs47bn in the transmission network and was able to raise the power supply in the peak summer by 4,275MW to 24,500MW.
The PTI government has also renegotiated arrangements with independent power plants and power plants in the public sector to reduce the customer pressure. He said that in every forum, even on the floor of the national assembly and the senate, the government was ready for a public discussion with the previous government.
Mr. Babar also blamed the former government for not building up gas storages before setting up LNG import terminals, but the new government is now laying down the North-South Gas Pipeline to transfer up to 1,400 mmcfd of gas from the port to distribution centres in addition to setting up storage facilities.
Mr. Babar said that he will now brief the media and the public on a weekly basis before the end of winter on the gas demand and supply situation. He also said that over the next 4-5 years the government will slowly clear up around Rs350bn circular debt in the gas network.
Mr. Ayub accepted that by December he had promised and terminated the circular debt of the power sector and had greatly lowered the circulatory debt flow until Covid-19. The country, however, had to provide the citizens and industry with relief.