Energy Task Force evolves consensus against gas demand curtailment

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The very first meeting of Special Task Force on Energy has evolved a consensus against curtailment of gas demand to any consumer while focusing on supply side management solutions for January 18 meeting of the federal Cabinet. Chairman Special Task Force on Energy Gohar Ejaz met Friday industry captains including Fawwad Mukhtar, Shahid Abdullah, Amir Fayyaz, Ahsan Bashir, Shahzad Khan, Seth Akbar and Anjum Nisar besides representatives from Karachi and other parts of country through video conference at APTMA Punjab office. Gohar said industry stakeholders have faced gas curtailment for 172 days on an average during 2011 and it is likely to be curtailed throughout the year ahead in case no short and long term solutions are chalked out as a way forward. He said supply side issue has not been addressed during last four years. He said fresh discoveries have not been encouraged, as Pakistan was offering $2.5 to $4 on exploring new discoveries against $14 internationally. Also, he said, no serious effort has been made to revive dormant gas fields and price rationalisation well in time. According to him, the task force has deliberated upon creating supplies both domestically and through imports, putting in place infrastructure to connect remote areas with Karachi port and brining dormant fields into operation. He said the industry has come forward to play a role in managing gas shortage on the premise that Pakistan would suffer ultimately. He said 10 million workers are on the brink of unemployment, trade deficit is on the rise, current account deficit is high and industrial bankruptcies are hitting through the roof. Therefore, the industry captains have got together to suggest solutions to the government. He said government has already towed APTMA proposals by passing laws on gas theft and infrastructure development surcharge. He said Article 158 of the Constitution has put Punjab in problem but other provinces would also face similar situation in case no sensible approach is adopted on gas utilisation.