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Tuesday November 30, 2021

Worsening gas crisis: PM for low-risk, high-yield solutions

November 19, 2021
Worsening gas crisis: PM for low-risk, high-yield solutions

ISLAMABAD: Perturbed over the worst-ever gas crisis that people are going to experience in the winter season 2021-22, Prime Minister Imran Khan on last Monday held three meetings and directed the authorities concerned to pluck the low hanging fruits to facilitate the supply of LNG and LPG across the country by using the potential of existing JJVL LPG plant and FSRU berthed with Terminal-2.

If the additional capacity of 150mmcfd available with FSRU at PGPCL Terminal is allowed to be used on private-to-private model, Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited plant for production of LPG is made operational, virtual pipeline projects structured and finalized for LNG supplies to off-grid consumers in far-flung areas, gas availability in the country will increase to a reasonable level and LPG cylinder price will tumble by Rs400-500 in the country. And in case these low-hanging fruits available with the country are plucked, the country can get out of gas crisis.

More importantly, the top man also took cognizance of the hindrances being created on virtual gas pipeline projects. The prime minister on last Monday first held a meeting with ministers and top officials of relevant ministries attended by Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin, Maritime Minister Ali Zaidi, Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, secretary petroleum, OGRA chairman and deputy chairman of Planning Commission to brainstorm strategy on how to cope with the gas crisis. In the meeting, the issue of perpetual intervention from the Maritime Ministry in the Energy Ministry’s affairs was raised, which resulted into delays in vital decision making, one of the participants of the meeting confided to The News.

The prime minister gave a patient hearing to Energy Ministry issues, which have become more complex in the wake of perpetual intervention from the Maritime Ministry and as a result decision making on energy issues gets delayed. One of the participants in the meeting told The News that the prime minister stopped the maritime minister from interfering into the energy ministry affairs. “This was the second time when the maritime minister was asked to stop doing so when it comes to energy issues.”

The first time Energy Minister Hammad Azhar and the-then Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Power and Petroleum Tabish Gauhar took up the issue of intervention by the Maritime Ministry in Energy Ministry’s affairs when dry docking of FSRU on Terminal-1 owned by Engro took place during June 29-July 5, 2021. Both the energy minister and the-then SAPM got infuriated and complained to the prime minister over the role of maritime minister, planning minister and the-then finance minister, who played a role in the CCOE meeting for constituting the committee headed by Azam Swati with the mandate to probe into the dry docking issue as to why it was delayed and why it had taken place on June 29-July 5, 2021. This time, the maritime minister’s intervention in issues like JJVL and opposition of projects at Gwadar Port with regard to supply of LNG through trucks both in Balochistan and Sindh was highlighted in the meeting held on Monday.

The prime minister held a second meeting with private sector stakeholders who want berths at the Gwadar Port for virtual gas pipeline projects. Right now, the situation for anyone who wants to invest in Gwadar is not good, as there is no facility of electricity and gas, which is why the government has failed so far to industrialize the port. In the meeting, proprietors of the Gwadar GasPort Limited and Daewoo Gas told the prime minister about the hindrances in their virtual gas pipeline projects.

The top man of the Gwadar GasPort Limited sensitized the premier, saying his company has signed an agreement with the Gwadar International Terminals Limited and but the maritime ministry was creating hurdles in the way of the project. The Gwadar Port Authority is not giving the NOC required for the project. The project involves huge investment of $150 million and if hurdles end, the project will be operational in the next seven months and will provide 300mmcfd gas through trucks in both provinces, Sindh and Balochistan. The prime minister asked the relevant authorities to end the hurdles in the way of projects of paramount importance.

The prime minister also directed the authorities to resolve all the issues that are causing hurdles in making the JJVL plant operational to increase the LPG production. It will help decrease the price of LPG cylinder by Rs500. The prime minister constituted a committee, headed by deputy chairman Planning Commission, to resolve the issues in making the JJVL plant operational. The committee comprises Attorney General, SSGC and Petroleum Division.

The premier also held a third meeting with entrepreneurs of Energas and Tabeer. Both the entrepreneurs shared issues that are causing delays in the construction of their LNG Terminal. The prime minister will again summon the meeting for follow up on the issues.