Industry reacts to gas supply diversion to power sector

 Suspension of gas supply to general industry from Saturday afternoon by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) to divert supply to power plants to meet the increasing demand threatens production and supply of various goods ahead of Eidul Azha, say representatives of the industry.

The situation has forced the manufacturing sector to close mills by sending workers on leave, they say.

“Suspending gas supplies all of a sudden on verbal orders and without any prior notice is sheer high-handedness with the industry, especially those engaged in food-related businesses. We strongly condemn this attitude,” Sheikhupura Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Adil Mehmood told media on Sunday.

“We would have no objection had SNGPL told us in advance. But the way they have done it has really disturbed us as we are unable to procure oil for power generation due to holidays. Perhaps, we will also be unable to arrange this on Monday (the last working day ahead of Eid),” he explained.

Mr Adil said SNGPL had disconnected supplies to the industry in Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Raiwind (Lahore) and other parts of Punjab. The chamber, he said, also contacted Petroleum Division Secretary Dr Arshad Mehmood and lodged its complaint. “We have also written letters to the prime minister and others concerned about gas supply suspension to the industry for 72 hours,” he said.

Earlier, the chamber in a statement said that since there was already a shortage of furnace oil in the market, the companies engaged in milk processing would suffer a lot. “Also, the two largest glass industries cannot function without electricity. We request the government to restore gas immediately to the finishing industry,” it added.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Adil said the industry continued to be in great trouble due to short supplies of gas. “Some days ago, we suffered due to suspension of gas supplies almost for a week. Now again they have stopped supplies. But this time, they have not given us space to even arrange fuel for generators. Another issue is forced power loadshedding by Lesco. It is simply pathetic,” he deplored.

On the other hand, sources in the Petroleum Division said that they were left with no option but to take this step for ensuring electricity supply to domestic consumers and export, fertiliser and cement sectors.

“There are some issues related to power generation due to which the shortfall is widening fast. And on the other hand, the demand is increasing fast due to severe hot weather. That is why gas supplies to gas-fired plants have been increased to 800mmcfd or so from 650mmcfd,” an official requesting anonymity explained. However, he said, the situation would improve soon.

Another official said that around 2,000MW was not available in the system due to shortage of furnace oil that was required for Muzaffargarh, Jamshoro and some other plants.

Hubco’s plant is not working due to lightning strike. One unit of Havili Bahadur Shah plant is closed due to some technical fault. “Similarly, there are some issues related to less hydel generation at Tarbela and Mangla dams due to shortage of water,” he explained.

The official held the decision-makers responsible for placing orders late for procurement of oil that led to the crisis.

Meanwhile, a Water and Power Development Authority official dispelled the impression, claiming that Tarbela touched peak generation of 7,200MW on Sunday. Moreover, Mangla also attained 800MW power generation, he added.

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