Gas shortage cripples life
December 30, 2011
The government’s gas load management policy is not only adversely affecting the province’s industrial sector, which is already facing a host of problems for the past several years but has completely failed to provide any relief to the CNG stations and residential sector.
With the current worst situation prevailing in the province, the government has warned about likely closure of gas to CNG stations for the whole month of January 2011.
DrAsimHussain, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural resources besides saying that joint efforts were required to overcome current gas crisis in the country hinted to closed gas to CNG stations for a month ahead.
No new major unit has been added to the province’s Nooriabad and Kotri industrial areas for years and Sindh has been made to suffer the gas shortage despite producing 68 percent of the total gas production of the country, according to industrialists.
“The situation is very alarming for us,” said the chairman of the Site Association of Trade and Industry, M IrfanMoton.
He said the industrialists could not stage sit-ins and take to the streets like other sections of society and they continued to suffer in silence.
As the province faced gas shortage it was disturbing to note that “Sindh produces 68 percent of gas, followed by Balochistan 18 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 9 percent and Punjab five percent,” he said.
“One daily wage earner working in a factory feeds on an average three to five persons of his family. One can imagine his condition if he is rendered jobless even for a day,” said EhteshamUddin, Chairman Korangi Association of Trade and Industry.
He said that on the one hand the government was talking about gas shortage while on the other it was issuing more licenses for CNG filling stations. At least 32 new licenses had recently been issued for CNG stations, he said.
He further said that Sindh was being penalised despite producing 68 percent of gas. “The shortage had dealt a severe blow to our export related consignments. We fail to meet our deadlines and suffer losses because the deals are made months before delivery,” he said. The gas shortage had hit 30 percent of exports, he added.
In Bangladesh, a domestic consumer was paying a fixed amount of Rs 400 for one stove while an industrialist was getting the same volume of gas for Rs 100 only. “That’s why our garment industry is shifting to Bangladesh,” said,MianAbrar, president Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He said that industrial sector should be exempted from the gas load management. The closure of CNG stations would hit only luxury because public transport vehicles mainly used diesel, which should be subsidised for people and the industry should be given concessions, he said.
He said that, “We don’t say why this or that province is getting that much of gas. We only want the government to consider our case as we are ready to volunteer for 15 percent reduction in consumption of gas in the larger national interest,” he said.
Like industries, the similar case is continue with CNG stations and even in residential area also as Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has started gas load shedding for both sectors.
SSGC has recently announced that supply of gas to all industrial zones of Sindh and Balochistan will be cut from Sunday morning for next 24 hours.
According to sources, SSGC is faced with gas shortage due to high demand in the wake of winter season. The company has decided to carry out load shedding to overcome the shortage. It has also announced that in case of violation of the order, gas supply will be suspended for a period of 48 hours.
Besides industries, SSGC announced that there would be weekly off for CNG stations.
The announcement of weekly daylong CNG suspension by the gas company has resulted regular massive lines of vehicles at CNG stations throughout the day. In several areas of Karachi, particularly in the main business district, there were long queues of vehicles at CNG and petrol pumps. The lines could be seen spilling over onto main roads, creating serious traffic problems which persisted till the evening hours.
According to an announcement by the Sui Southern Gas Company, gas supply to CNG stations in Sindh and Hub will be shutdown for 24 hours any day of the week.
The SSGC said the order to shut down gas supply to CNG stations has been issued in view of a continuing gas shortage, which, spokesman of SSGC said, has been exacerbated by the increased demand for power during the winters. He added that the order was in accordance with recent decision of Economic Coordination Committee of the federal cabinet.
“The decision to discontinue gas to the CNG stations on a periodic basis follows an extraordinarily low pressure situation that has badly affected overall gas supply in Sindh and Balochistan,” he said.
SSGC said that it’s aware that its customers are faced with an adverse situation and that the company is taking all actions to ensure uninterrupted gas supply and stable pressure. This would be the fifth province-wide CNG shutdown of the current winter season.
A representative of the All Pakistan CNG Association said that the CNG associations had not been taken into confidence by SSGC regarding another 24 hour suspension of gas supply to CNG pumps. He said the CNG station owners had been threatened with additional two-day gas suspension penalty in case they did not comply with gas shut down orders.
He said that this shut down of gas supply would strike a serious blow to the CNG business in the province and that, practically speaking, the gas suspension this week would stand at a total of 72 hours, as on Thursday, gas pressure remained phenomenally low at several CNG pumps, heavily compromising their filling service.
He said that the solution is to “religiously and wholeheartedly” observe 24 hours suspension of gas consumption by industries in the province on a voluntary basis as it would save around 300 MMCFD volume of gas.
He said that if the industries observed this voluntarily suspension of gas consumption, then the CNG association was also ready to observe daylong suspension of gas supply to fuel pumps every week. However, a shut-down that lasts longer than 24 hours per week would not be acceptable to the CNG association.
Spokesman for SSGC said that this fresh 24 hour closure of gas supply to CNG pumps was inevitable: if it had not been done there would have been a complete breakdown of gas distribution to both fuel stations and domestic sectors in the city.
The public in the city are sure to suffer due to these daylong closures; such shut-downs badly affect public transport vehicles, a majority of which run on CNG. On such occasions, cabs and rickshaws drivers are known to demand exorbitant fares from the stranded public.