Power crisis to resolve by Monday: Hammad

Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar has said the twin crisis of gas and electricity will be over by Monday and 70% supply of the Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) will be restored from today [Saturday].

“40% re-gasification of the RLNG from the replacement ship has been achieved two days ahead of schedule. We are targeting 70% restoration of the RLNG supply by tomorrow [Saturday],” the minister said in a social media post on Friday as a number of cities across the country faced long power outages.

Speaking at a press conference later, Azhar said the authorities have to start the process of dry docking of the RLNG terminals on Wednesday resulting in suspension of gas supply to the power sector for two days. “However, 40% RLNG is already in the system,” he added.

The minister said due to reduced inflow of water, Tarbela Dam is also producing just 20% to 25% of its capacity. “The water flows will improve in a few days and Tarbela Dam will also start producing up to 75% of its capacity,” he added.

The minister said that “some elements” were politicizing the temporary power disturbance. He rejected the claim of PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that the government wants to clear the way for running furnace oil based plants.

In view of a shortage of gas, the energy ministry on June 28 issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) to power producers to import furnace oil – which is likely to increase the cost of electricity.

Azhar said the present government is running only one fourth of the power plants on furnace oil which is far less when compared to the use of furnace oil during the PML-N government. “We are gradually limiting the use of furnace oil,” he added.

He said the government has met a shortfall of 630 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) using local gas resources. He said it is a regular practice to use furnace oil to produce electricity every summer.

The minister said the consumption of electricity by domestic users has increased by 6%-7% while the consumption of electricity by industries has swelled by 15%. “This is a good sign.”

He claimed that the incumbent government has enhanced the capacity of the power distribution network which can now support additional electricity.

Read Use of RLNG by K-Electric to cost Rs18 billion

“In past the distribution system could only transmit 16,000 megawatts (MW). The distribution and transmission system has been upgraded during the last 2 years and successfully transmits around 25,000 MW. Its capacity would further be enhanced to 10,000 MW in the next few years.”

He said during the tenure of the previous government, the country mostly relied on imported fuel.

Azhar said the PTI government has also reduced the circular debt. “When we came into power, the circular debt was increasing at a rate of Rs450 billion a year but now this year the circular debt has increased by Rs177 billion. The circular debt will further shrink,” he said.

He said in the next 8 years, 26,000MW will be included in the system.

The minister said the country right now faces a shortfall between 1,500MW to 600MW. He said the country has never seen such a high demand for electricity.

To a question about the Pakistan-Russia gas pipeline project, he said the Rs500 billion project earlier had some defects. “The government has now signed an amended international agreement.

“We are reviewing all the aspects of the project and will soon start work on it,” he added.

On Friday, various parts of the country continued to witness unannounced load shedding. According to some sources in the Power Division, the power shortfall stayed at around 6,000MW. They said currently the electricity demand is 25,000MW while the country is generating 19,000MW.

Right now, 4,000MW is being generated through hydel power; the government’s thermal power plants are generating 2,000MW while independent power producers are making 13,000MW.

The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) is facing a shortfall of 500MW – it requires 2,200MW but gets 1,700MW. The people of Islamabad are facing a power outage of one hour after every four hours while the people of Rawalpindi are facing one hour power outage after every two hours.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lambasted the “incompetent” PTI government for subjecting the nation to hours-long power outages in extreme hot weather.

He said the PTI government claims that the last PML-N government set up expensive power plants but today the country is facing its worst energy crisis. He rejected the claim that there was any issue with the distribution network.

“The PTI government is lying with impunity. You are incompetent but please don’t lie,” he said.

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