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Gas deficit looms large as PLL fails to procure eight LNG cargoes

The country will not be able to import 1.2 bcfd LNG each in December and January --- peak demand season in winter

By Khalid Mustafa
October 12, 2021
File photo of an LNG cargo.
File photo of an LNG cargo.

ISLAMABAD: The unprecedented gas deficit in the forthcoming winter season has become inevitable as Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL) has failed to attract the LNG trading companies in response to its tender floated on September 11, 2021 seeking eight LNG cargoes, four each for December and January.

This means the country will not be able to import 1.2 bcfd LNG each in December and January --- peak demand season in winter, instead it will be able to import just 900mmcfd in each month with a deficit of 300 mmcfd. In November, the government will import 1bcfd against 1.2 bcfd capacity.

In the wake of no response from LNG trading companies, in December and January, PLL’s 600 mmcfd capacity at PGPCL terminal will remain underutilized by 300 mmcfd each month. “This would be a double jeopardy for the government creating a mammoth political backlash from the masses sick of high inflation for a very long time,'' a senior official at the Energy Ministry privy to the development told The News.

“The production of local gas has fallen to 2.8 bcfd and the country can import 1.2 bcfd LNG which will not be fully exploited in the coming winter. In the winters the demand goes up to 5 bfcd whereas the country will only have 3.7 bcfd in December and January for failure in purchasing eight LNG cargoes.’

There would be a sizeable gas crisis even if the government manages the 8 LNG cargoes during the peak demand in December and January, but under new scenario without contracting the required tender, the gas crisis intensity would increase to a level where for the government would not be able to provide gas to power and export sector. The domestic sector may also face the maximum load shedding apart from zero gas supply of non-export, commercial and CNG sector.

“This means that in December and January, the country’s economic and industrial activities will virtually come to standstill,” the official said. The Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL) confirmed the development saying that in response to its PPRA compliant tenders floated on September 11, 2021 seeking 8 LNG cargoes, four each for December, 2021 and January 2022, it has not received any bids.

The LNG companies may not have submitted their bids on account of PPRA compliant tender, as under its rules the PPL is bound to hold the bids for 15 days discouraging the companies to come up with bids at a time when LNG spot prices have crossed $35 per MMBTU. Against the backdrop, the PLL got an exemption from PPRA on September 21, 2021 for spot purchasing which did not prove fruitful as it had already issued tenders on September 11, 2021.

The official at the Energy Ministry said that in November, PSO will have 6 term cargoes and PLL will have four including one cargo from Qatar at 10.2 percent of the Brent. However, in December and January the country will have 9 LNG cargoes (6 by PS0 and 3 by PLL) in each month against the demand of 13 cargoes per month. So there will be an unprecedented gas crisis in December and January. He said Bangladesh purchased LNG under spot purchasing at over $30 per MMBTU some days back which has now further increased over $35 per MMBTU.

The official said that the prices of LNG in the spot market have increased mainly because of the massive demand by EU countries as Russia has massively squeezed the gas supply to whole Europe after Germany raised the issues of sanctioned companies involved in building the Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline. The LNG demand has also been driven as China is abandoning power generation based on coal as fuel.