Fuel shortage causing power outages

The country is facing electricity load-shedding of 5-8 hours in different areas/localities due to higher demand and lower generation due to shortage of fuel especially gas supply to power plants.

On Monday at 2:36 pm, generation was recorded at 17976 MW against demand of over 21,000 MW, showing a substantial gap in demand and generation. Of this, 14536 MW was from IPPs, 837 MW from Gencos and 2603 MW from Wapda hydel.

According to sources, LNG-fired plants are being supplied only 500 MMCFD RLNG against their demand of 690 MMCFD, due to which the National Power Control Centre (NPCC), the system operator, is operating furnace oil-fired plants, which are very expensive to run compared to natural gas and RLNG. Nandipur is operating due to not availability of gas whereas Bhikki is not operating at full capacity.

An exchange of accusatory tweets was witnessed between Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and former Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar.

Prime Minister, in his tweet said: “Mian Nawaz Sharif’s government ended the worst load-shedding in five years. PTI government neither purchased fuel in time nor repaired power plants. Hence, current load shedding. Costly power generation through inefficient plants is costing the people Rs 100 billion/ month. We are fixing it”.

Replying to Prime Minister, former Energy minister, Hammad Azhar claimed “there are only 5 power plants under repair, most of them in the private sector. Fuel shortage because of two PML-N LNG contracts defaulting and prompt system gas diversions were made in last two weeks. This is a classic mismanagement issue that could easily have been avoided”.

PM irked by power load-shedding

However, independent sources privy to fuel issue told this scribe that the main reason for lower generation from RLNG-fired power plants is the failure of the Petroleum Division to purchase LNG in time despite the fact that Power Division had been intimated about the required quantity of RLNG four or five months ago. The issue of RLNG shortage has time and again been discussed at Nepra hearings and vice chairman Nepra wrote dissenting notes and opposed passing of financial impact of expensive fuel to the consumers.

According to officials, another reason for load-shedding is average increase of 35 percent in demand due to higher than usual temperature in April. Many HSFO plants are operating on borrowed fuel from those plants where stocks were sufficient. Coal-fired plants are also running out of stocks as the government is not paying them money to purchase coal.

“We have almost completed this month with better management of fuel and load shed at day time. For May, our planning is good as furnace oil, RLNG is due to arrive, in addition to improvement in hydel generation”, said an official. One cargo of HSFO is expected to berth on May 3, 2022 whereas one cargo of LSFO has already arrived which is being supplied to KAPCO.

The obsolete public sector plants i.e. Gencos are closed. However, unit number 9, 10, 11 which are not on open cycle in the light of Nepra decision are being operated.

The sources said the KE is also being supplied over 1000 MW despite the fact the power utility is not paying for supply over and above 650 MW.

Related posts