KESC’s ‘Misery Hours’ increased to 8 hours


KARACHI – The Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) has increased load shedding to up to eight hours due to, what the company claims, shortage of gas for running its electricity generating plants, sources have informed Pakistan Today. Moreover, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) would be receiving 60 percent less gas from one of its major gas fields, causing the KESC to face further shortage of gas and, consequently, multiplying the sufferings of the people of Karachi.
The high-loss residential and commercial areas have started bearing almost eight hours of load shedding as the KESC increased power outages from five to eight hours daily in four spells. The power company has not only increased the duration of power outages, but also changed the schedule of load shedding. KESC sources claimed that the company had not implemented its earlier announcement of increasing load shedding, but power breakdowns were increased on Monday after the power company received no positive response from the SSGC.
The gas company was continuously supplying around 150mmcfd gas to the KESC while the latter was demanding 276mmcfd for the summer season.
Sources claimed that with the expected reduction in gas supply next month, the citizens might have to face 12 to 15 hours of power breakdowns during the peak hours from May to August. It is pertinent to mention here that the power company had claimed on Friday that it was compelled to increase the hours of load shedding in high-loss residential and commercial areas from Saturday due to acute shortage of gas supply. In spite of the significant increase in the electricity demand with rising temperature in the recent weeks, the KESC has been making all-out efforts to keep up with the power demand and to carry out only scheduled load shedding.
Since mid-March, power demand has exceeded the 2,200MW mark, whereas the gas supply is still lagging far behind at only 150mmcfd.
On the other hand, the 345mmcfd gas-supplying Bhit field, one of the largest gas fields of the SSGC, would be shut down for almost a month for maintenance and cause reduction of almost 60 percent gas.
SSGC sources said that starting April 11, Bhit gas field would be reducing its supplies by an average of 60 percent for a period of 24 days due to annual turnaround (ATA).
Since the gas company purchases natural gas from multiple exploration and gas producing companies in the country, the supply to major customers would be affected. To avoid losses and other worries after reduction in gas supply, the SSGC has requested the industrial sector to use natural gas by voluntarily curtailing consumption by 20 percent during the maintenance period. “Initially, Bhit gas field had scheduled 100 percent shutdown, but after many meetings and follow-ups, the gas company was able to persuade Eni Pakistan (the operator of the gas field) to maintain supplies through at least one production train; thus, ensuring at least 40 percent supply during the ATA,” sources claimed.
This ATA would directly affect the SSGC and reduce its capacity to serve its customers in meeting their normal gas requirements.
The gas company has written to the Water and Power Development Authority, the Fauji Fertiliser Company and the KESC – which are likely to be affected the most – and informed them of the annual maintenance that would result in substantial reduction in their usual gas supply. According to sources, since gas exploration and related projects are being neglected by the government, the existing gas production capacity that is already decreasing is widening the gap between demand and supply.