January to face worst gas load shedding: Dr Asim


Federal Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain said on Sunday that the coming January would bring the worst gas load shedding, with gas shortfall reaching 1,027mmcdf, but claimed that the crisis would be overcome by 2013 by putting more gas into the system.
Addressing a press conference at Oil and Gas Development Authority (OGDC), the minister said adequate supply of gas would be crucial during the next year, therefore supply to industries and gas stations would remain suspended for three days a week in winter. He said 200mmcdf more gas was expected from domestic resources while the power sector would get 76mmcdf and fertiliser sector would get 90mmcdf of gas under the gas load management plan.
He said the preliminary sale and purchase agreement on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline would be signed on Monday (today) upon the Turkmenistani president’s arrival in Pakistan. Describing measures taken in the last six months, Dr Hussain said survey and design work on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline had been completed and that Pakistan had decided to renegotiate the gas price with the Iranian authorities.
He said three oil companies had been awarded licences under the new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Policy under which supply of LNG was expected to begin in the third quarter of next year. He said encouraging signs had been received from ZIN Block gas field after reaching the targeted depth. He said the government would resolve the issue of circular debt, adding that the government was planning to establish a think tank comprising all the stakeholders to design the oil and gas policy for the next 20 years.
Dr Hussain said the government had decided to close down or penalise the independent power producers (IPPs) captive powers and rental power projects (RPPs) not found to be energy efficient. He said after the approval of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), four more oil depots had been built in order to raise the oil and gas storage from 40,000 tonnes. He said Gas Infrastructure Surcharge would only be taken from commercial, industrial and fertiliser sector and would not be imposed on domestic consumers.
A Senate panel cleared the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess bill, paving the way for the government to impose the tax in the range of 14 to 96 percent on gas consumers, which will yield revenues of Rs 34 billion. To a question, the minister said provinces were getting the Gas Development Surcharge (GDS) and it was not utilised for the purpose for which it was imposed.
He said the government was installing smart gas metres at CNG stations to end gas theft and 1,100 such metres had already been installed in Sindh. He said the government was also monitoring the consumption of industrial units to curb distortions. He said in winter gas would be provided to domestic consumers on a priority basis. Dr Hussain said further that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) would open the first LPG station in Lahore in the next few days. Meanwhile, the All Pakistan CNG Association announced a campaign along with the opposition against increased gas outages in the country.