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January 18, 2019

SNGPL cuts gas supply to industry, CNG sector


January 18, 2019

LAHORE: Grossly mismanaged supply chain of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has once again led to shutting gas deliveries to industry and transport sectors for an indefinite period.

According to an announcement of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL), supply of regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to industrial and compressed natural gas (CNG) sectors in Punjab has been suspended in view of reduction in input of RLNG following delay in berthing of cargo at Port Qasim.

SNGPL earlier stated that the LNG ship could not be facilitated to enter the port due to high tide. However, a spokesman said that LNG cargo could not enter port due to low tide.

The gas utility has yet not mentioned timeframe of gas closure.

After delay in anchoring the LNG ship, SNGPL was facing 300mmcfd shortfall in supplies on Thursday.

It was feared that this gap would continue to swell, and might increase to over 500mmcfd if LNG supplies were not resumed from the import terminal.

An official of CNG sector claimed that Port Qasim Authorities were dredging the main channel that resulted in restrictions on the entering large LNG ship.

He added that the LNG consignment from Qatar, which was sourced by Pakistan State Oil (PSO) did arrive on the periphery of port as per schedule. However, the ship failed to enter port due to “reasons better known to PQA management”.

Augmenting gas supply through LNG import was an important element of the government’s energy security strategy, as presently it accounts for about one-fourth of the shortfall in demand and supply of natural gas.

An official of PSO on condition of anonymity said the tide rises and decreases daily, as it was a natural phenomenon. He made it clear that it was the responsibility of the PQA to bring the vessel in, once it was at the outer anchorage. “It seems the vessel had arrived and PQA is unable to berth it due to reasons better known to high ups,” the official said.

Commenting on the improvement in channel, he said dredging at Port Qasim river port was a known phenomenon, and should be undertaken by the authorities regularly.

They had agreement to deepen the channel as part of the container terminal, but this activity was reportedly abandoned. He continued to say that PQA was charging $100,000/ship to widen the channel/create lay bays, and to date, should have over $23 million in its coffers. It was incomprehensible why dredging was still not completed, he observed.

An industry expert said the gas shortage this winter was due to lack of planning by the Ministry of Energy and Power Division. He added that volumes disbursed to other sectors were also not understandable.

The real culprit behind successive gas and RLNG shortages in last month or so has been lack of integrated fuel planning, which has to be done by the Ministry of Energy.

A leading player of CNG sector said that gas supplies to transport sector were already cut fortnightly till January 10, 2019.

The CNG sector in Sindh was also shut for 15 days. There were restrictions imposed on opening CNG stations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the morning and evening.

He alleged that a conspiracy has been hatched to disrupt the CNG sector, adversely affecting thousands of filling station owners.

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