Supply to CNG stations in Punjab, KP Halted as Winter Bites

Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) suspended the gas supply to compressed natural gas (CNG) stations across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Monday for an indefinite period in a bid to meet the increasing demand of over six million domestic consumers.

The CNG sector has taken exception to the SNGPL’s decision, describing the suspension of gas as an illegal act. On the other hand, domestic users in some areas of Punjab and KP have started facing a gas shortage as the temperature falls, with many service areas in major cities, especially the tail-end ones, experiencing low gas pressure. Besides, a few areas are experiencing low gas pressure due to the use of compressors by some domestic consumers to extract gas.

“The suspension of gas supply to CNG stations in Punjab and KP for an indefinite period under a 17-year-old policy is an illegal act.” All Pakistan CNG Association’s group leader Ghayas Piracha told Dawn, adding that suspending gas in KP was also a contempt of court.

“The Gas Load Management Policy of 2005 had been enforced for a period of two years only. But the authorities concerned intentionally concealed this from the federal cabinet,” Mr Piracha claimed.

He said that since CNG stations across the two provinces used to get regasified liquefied natural gas instead of the indigenous or system gas, the policy is not applicable for the CNG sector. “Whenever the gas shortage emerges, we become the first to be hit,” he said, urging the federal government to take notice of the situation.

On the other hand, the domestic consumers in tail-end areas or those bearing the brunt of the compressor use by people living in the vicinity started experiencing extremely low gas pressure. “Whenever the winter starts, the gas supply squeezes, leaving us with no option but to use expensive LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] cylinders to keep our home routine intact,” said Saeed, a resident of Lahore’s Sahowari neighbourhood.

Anwar, a resident of the Township area, lamented that despite having low gas supply in winter, the consumers continued to face higher bills.

A spokesman for the SNGPL told Dawn that since domestic consumers were a top priority, the company was liable to provide them with gas first and then others under a merit order.

“We have diverted 100 million standard cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas meant for the CNG sector to domestic consumers to meet their increasing demand that has now reached to around 700 mmcfd,” he explained. “The domestic sector’s demand will increase further in December and January and is expected to reach 1,200 to 1,300 mmcfd during peak winter.”

The spokesman admitted that the tail-end areas, especially the northern areas of Lahore, and those areas where consumers use compressors to extract gas are in trouble. “A single domestic consumer uses gas of nearly 30 houses if they use compressor,” he said.

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