ISLAMABAD: The country is likely to experience the worst shortage of gas this winter, particularly in December, January and February, as the gap between supply and demand would surge due to less availability of local and imported gas, it was learnt on Tuesday.
Sources told Pakistan Today that the state-owned gas companies, Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited and Sui Southern Gas Pipeline Limited, have informed industrial consumers to make alternate arrangements this season as they would disconnect gas supplies. Domestic consumers across the country were already raising their voices against the low pressure of gas supply, they added.
The sources informed that gas shortfall at present stands around 300 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) to 400mmcfd, while it will grow up to 700mmcfd during the extreme winter season.
An official source in the petroleum division on the condition of anonymity informed that the total supply of gas for the month of November will stand at 1,850mmcfd, 1,900mmcfd for December, 1,875mmcfd for January 2019, and only 1,800mmcfd for February 2019.
He said that up to 125mmcfd gas shortfall is estimated for the extreme winter season. However, he added, import of LNG to the country will help reduce the shortage while additional LNG cargoes would be made available in January and February next year to satisfy the gas demand.
It has been noted that the present government is trying hard to ensure gas supply in the season for all categories of consumers. At present, six LNG cargos are being imported by Pakistan State Oil (PSO), while only two cargoes are being imported by Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL) to meet the gas demand. However, a permanent end to the gas shortage is nowhere in the offing this season.
It is pertinent to mention that the demand for gas in winters escalates manifold and the system gas, ranging between 3.8 billion cubic feet per day and 4bcfd, is not enough to cater to the needs of the domestic sector. Due to the gas shortage last winter, excess LNG was diverted to the domestic sector to cater to the household needs as well as to save people from the adverse impacts of the season. However, during this winter season, the gas consumers, particularly the domestic consumers of Punjab, will face the worst shortage of gas owing to less LNG import.
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) in its ‘State of the Industry Report 2016-17’ had mentioned that with an addition of 300,000 gas consumers every year, the country’s gas shortage is estimated to touch 4bcfd — almost equal to current total supplies — in two years and will go beyond 6.6bcfd by 2030.
The report had stated that the shortfall in gas is expected to reach 3.999bcfd by the fiscal year 2019-20 and the gap will reach 6.611bcfd by 2029-30. It noted a significant rise in demand and consumption of gas by residential and domestic consumers owing to price differential vis-à-vis other competing fuels —LPG, firewood and coal.
The report also said over the past five years, more than 300,000 consumers had been added to the gas network annually while the growth in power, commercial and residential and fertiliser sectors resulted in a shortage.