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Hammad hides behind court orders on gas crisis

By News Report
December 25, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar Friday refused to accept responsibility for the ongoing gas crisis, saying the government could not meet the increased household demand for gas due to the court orders.

He, however, expressed the hope that the ongoing gas shortage issue would be resolved soon. The Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) is currently facing shortage of around 250 to 260mmcfd, with the demand in winter rising to 1,250mmcfd.

Addressing a press conference here, he said there was a stay on provision of gas to priority areas and ‘in the next hearing on December 30, we will bring it up’. "For the past several years, the system has faced gas shortage in the winter season, while demand increases 3-5 times.”

"On the other hand, Pakistan’s natural gas reserves are depleting 9pc a year. Just in the past two years, gas reserves have depleted by 18pc, while demand for domestic and industrial usage is on the rise," Hammad said.

He said there would be a cut of 15 percent in gas supply from January 15. He said the imported LNG, which Pakistan had increasingly relied on in recent years, has become extremely expensive, says a media report. “We are purchasing LNG cargoes at $30-40MMBtu, which cost billions of rupees to the national exchequer, and then

we provide it at cheap rates. Therefore, only limited supply of LNG can be provided to the domestic pipeline,” said Hammad. Refusing to accept responsibility for the ongoing gas crisis, Hammad said Karachi was facing gas shortage, as supply to the industries could not be curtailed due to the court's stay order and insufficient LNG supply.

“Owing to the two stay orders issued by the Sindh High Court, we are unable to do so, resulting in Karachi's gas crisis, Hammad stated. He said the Sui Southern's Management Director had been directed to approach the Sindh High Court for a speedy hearing of the case in this regard.

While gas supply remained constant, the demand from residential consumers climbed three to five fold during the winter, he said. The energy minister stated that he recognised the difficulties facing the residents of Karachi adding that there was also a gas scarcity in the city's outskirts.

It is worth noting that with the arrival of winter, a gas scarcity has occurred in many districts of Karachi and the surrounding areas. Aftab Siddiqui, the PTI's Karachi MNA, also wrote that Hammad Azhar's attitude was disgraceful as he did not even respond to mails.

Jamil Ahmad Khan, a National Assembly Member representing NA-237 Malir Karachi, sent an open letter to the energy minister stating that his constituents were worried and will protest on the assembly floor if gas was not restored.