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Punjab kitchens may face gas loadshedding in winter

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Punjab kitchens may face gas loadshedding in winter

The coming winter is going to be tough for gas consumers in Punjab with the increasing supply shortage projected to shoot up from 900mmcfd next month to 1400mmcfd in January because of the usual steep increase in demand due to cold weather.

While the industry will struggle to carry on its production operations and CNG stations are likely to dry up for three months from December onwards, domestic consumers will probably not have gas to heat their homes and water. The heating needs of domestic consumers are estimated to quadruple their demand for the fuel during the cold weather.

The warning of a tougher winter came from Managing Director of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) Arif Hameed who was speaking to textile manufacturers at the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) office on Tuesday.

“We’ve sent a proposal to the government for managing gas shortages in Punjab for different consumers during winter,” he said, but refused to share its details because it was being discussed, reviewed and altered constantly. Nevertheless, he said, the proposed plan had also suggested curtailment of gas supply for domestic users, who top the utility’s priority list, to two hours each in morning, at mid-day and in evening for cooking food.

If implemented, it will be the first time that domestic consumers in Punjab will experience gas supply curtailment ever since the cheap fuel was discovered in the 1960s. Mr Hameed did not confirm if CNG stations would remain closed for three months from December onwards as stated by the petroleum minister several days ago. He pointed out that nothing could be said unless the load management plan was finalised.

Although the SNGPL chief assured the textile manufacturers that gas saved by curtailing domestic supplies would be diverted to the industry, he refused to give a commitment that the existing share of the industry in Punjab would not be cut.

Currently, the textile industry in Punjab is getting gas 10 hours a day or three days a week for captive power, compared to the continuous supply to its counterparts in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

During the last winter, gas supply to the industry and CNG stations in Punjab was completely stopped for more than three months owing to a sharp spike in domestic demand on falling temperatures.

Aptma leader Gohar Ejaz urged the SNGPL management to at least maintain the present level of daily supply of 200mmcfd to textile producers, who are faced with 10-hour power blackouts a day, during the upcoming winter in order to help them carry on their production operations without any interruption. “At stake are thousands of industrial jobs and export earnings of $3 billion,” he pointed out.

In response, Mr Hameed said: “We will do our best to provide maximum gas to the industry during winter. It is a tall order (given the fact the utility will have only 1450mmcfd gas available in its network to meet the peak demand of more than 2800mmcfd) and it will largely depend on the weather conditions. In case of a milder winter, you can expect better supplies.”

Later, he told Dawn that gas supply to the textile industry might be curtailed to two days a week or almost seven hours a day next month. It implies that December and January could be even tougher for the industry.

Mr Hameed also said that gas-fired private power stations were next on the priority list after domestic consumers.

In his opening remarks, Aptma-Punjab chairman S.M. Tanvir said new opportunities were opening up for doubling Pakistan’s textile exports to $26 billion over the next five years, but warned that the country would miss the bus if energy shortages for the industry were not removed.

Punjab kitchens may face gas loadshedding in winter - DAWN.COM
 

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