ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan, while underscoring the need for consensus among provinces and the federal government on the issue of gas, has ordered the preparation of a comprehensive roadmap to steer the country out of the gas crisis.
Addressing a seminar on ‘Sustainability, Security and Affordability of Natural Gas Supply in Pakistan,’ organised by Petroleum Division on Wednesday, the prime minister pointed out that indigenous gas reserves were depleting and the country was now importing gas to plug the shortfall.
“But there is a big difference in the price of domestic gas and imported gas. With imported gas costing Rs17 a unit, its sale at Rs14 per unit creates a gap worth Rs3 a unit, which leads to the crisis. Dependence on import increases the circular debt of the energy sector,” the PM explained.
He noted that only 27pc households have access to piped gas while the remaining rely on LPG cylinders, which were four times more expensive than the piped gas. He said the subsidy on gas should be such that it facilitates the poor lot.
“To date, we were relying on indigenous gas, the reserves of which are depleted now. We really need to think about it, especially when winter is around the corner and there is usually a shortage of gas supply,” he said. “First of all, we need to debate on the issue while keeping a close eye on the development of the country. It is also not possible that a province progresses and the country’s economy fails. We are assuming that there are gas reserves and we can extract gas but we are still not sure about it.”
The premier warned that the country was heading towards a gas crisis. “I am alarmed because there will be a problem this winter but an even bigger problem next winter,” he said.
However, he expressed hope that the participants of the seminar, led by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, would reach a consensus.
“We know that it’s quite an expensive process but I am expecting that we can build a national consensus while bringing all provinces on board.”
Imran Khan regretted that no long-term planning was done in the past to cope with the energy crisis, adding that there was no effort to exploit the hydro potential of the country to produce cheap electricity.
“We are grateful to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for renegotiating the contracts with the government,” the PM said. “We will apprise the nation next week of the savings to be accrued from these renewal of contracts that will help reduce burden on the people.”