LAHORE: Work on Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline has already started, and we are ready to fully explore the option of importing gas and oil from neighbouring countries, Caretaker Federal Minister for Energy Muhammad Ali said on Friday.
“We will explore Iran’s offer to provide natural gas and petroleum products to Pakistan. I met the Iranian ambassador and discussed bilateral energy issues earlier. To respond to the new offer of Iranian envoy, which he made on Friday in the provincial metropolis, we will engage with them to see options for oil and gas import offers,” the minister said while talking to media men at the inauguration of a model customer service centre at Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd. Definitely, the minister said, we will go for any buying option that is not in violation of international laws and sanctions.
Regarding to the availability of natural gas in the upcoming summer, the minister said the natural gas supply dropped by 20 percent in the system over the last year level. This is a huge gap, which will ultimately translate into low gas availability for the end consumers.
The dwindling gas resources simply mean loadshedding for the users, he said, adding imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) can lead to bridging the gap, though it is a costly option. We are trying to import as much LNG as possible.
However, the spot rate of LNG presently stands at $15 per unit, and we are selling it to domestic consumers at $1.5 per unit, which is not sustainable.
To meet the demand of industry, the minister said the government is trying to import maximum cargoes of LNG.
Talking about the high cost of electricity bills, Muhammad Ali said that many people do not pay taxes, so the government has to recover it through utility bills. There would have been no need to impose taxes through power bills or gasoline purchases if taxes were paid accordingly. The government is also taking action against energy theft, which will also help in providing relief to consumers.
He said the plan to provide relief to power consumers on bloated electricity bills has been shelved. As talks with the IMF were delayed to the extent that this intervention could not give any tangible benefit to consumers, the federal government dropped plans to provide relief to inflation-stricken power consumers.
Earlier, the minister chaired separate meetings of five departments, including LESCO, PITC, NTDC, WAPDA and NESPAK, here at the WAPDA House. The minister was briefed by the relevant officers on the workings of their respective departments.
Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Sajjad Ghani and members of the authority also briefed the caretaker minister on WAPDA projects and activities. They said WAPDA hydel power generation would be doubled from 9,500 MW to 19,500 MW with an addition of about 10,000 MW of low-cost, green, and clean energy on completion of under-construction WAPDA projects in a phased manner from 2024 to 2029.