ISLAMABAD-Warning of a difficult gas shortfall-hit winter ahead, the Secretary Petroleum has said that domestic consumers will face daily gas outages of 16 hours during the season.

This time, winter is quite difficult regarding gas availability and gas will be given only three times to domestic consumers during cooking time, Secretary Petroleum Division Muhammad Mahmood said while briefing National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum here Thursday. 

The committee, which met with Aamir Talal Gopang in chair, was informed by Secretary Petroleum Division that there is no gas in the country, therefore in the winter season only 8 hours in 24 hours gas will be supplied to the domestic consumers. Secretary Petroleum said that domestic consumers will get gas for three hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and three hours in the evening. Muhammad Mahmood said that the country is running out of gas reserves and if the situation continues like this, after ten years, Pakistan will run out of its own gas. Regarding purchasing expensive LNG, Secretary Petroleum said that they cannot buy expensive LNG and sell it cheaper.

There are areas in the country with gas deposits, but the exploration is not possible due to security reasons, he said. There are no new discoveries of gas due to security risk and political instability, he added. Instead of coming to Pakistan, big petroleum companies in the world are going to other countries, secretary said and added that global companies are going to low risk countries in search of oil and gas. Global companies are not coming to Pakistan because of political instability and are going to low-risk countries to search for oil and gas. Due to political instability, international oil and gas companies are not ready to invest here, Secretary Petroleum said and asked that why would a company come for a year?. They say that after one year this government will not be in place, then what will happen to them, secretary added. We will have to depend on imported gas, he said. It is likely that gas will become cheaper in the world market during four years, he maintained. The government is building infrastructure to import additional gas. Regarding import from Iran and Russia, secretary said that due to international sanctions they cannot take gas from these countries.

However, he said that the government is taking steps to obtain gas from alternative sources. Each of the countries we are talking about the gas supply is under the influence of another country, he added. The secretary has however, clarified that the Ministry has no decision of its own, as decisions are made at the political level. Managing Director Sui Southern Gas Company Limited said that the gas load management plan for winter has been submitted to the Petroleum Division. Gas will be given priority to domestic consumers, while the gas of captive plants will be cut off, he said. There may be gas supply problems in the areas of Karachi, Lyari, Kemari tail end in Sui Southern area. 

There is an estimated shortage of 200 to 300 MMCFD of gas on SSGCL network during the winter season. MD Sui Southern said that industries in Karachi will not be allowed to draw gas through pressure pumps. Member committee Agha Rafiullah asked that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, domestic consumers get gas with better pressure, why not in Sindh. Secretary Petroleum replied that since there are very few industries in KP therefore the gas pressure is better, while in Sindh there are more industries which is causing low gas pressure. Muhammad Mahmmod further informed the committee that due to accumulation of arrears, Sui gas companies are at the verge of bankruptcy.