Minister sees no gas shortage this winter

Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik on Monday held former planning minister Asad Umar responsible for last year’s gas crisis in the country, saying the latter had recommended not importing the commodity, and emphasised that there would be no gas shortage this winter.

Malik made the remarks while addressing the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum, which met under the chairmanship of Abdul Qadir in the Parliament House.

It was further noted that the state-owned petroleum companies would sell LPG at the union council level at official rates.

As the proceedings started, the panel witnessed an exchange of harsh words between Malik and PTI Senator Saifullah Abro.

During the session, Abro questioned Pakistan LNG’s Masood Nabi that why the incumbent government did not purchase LNG when it was available at a low cost during the tenure of the PTI.

Malik intervened and told Abro to raise the question with him. The PTI senator said that he wanted to have the details from the relevant official.

When Malik said that he was responding to his question, Abro asked why Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir was not attending the committee’s meeting despite the fact that he held a bigger portfolio than the state minister.

Abro said that a state minister was not allowed to join the standing committee’s meeting to which Malik expressed his annoyance, asking “Why was I called if I am not allowed to attend the meeting?”

Malik said he should not be “insulted” and would leave the meeting.

The committee chairman intervened asking how the meeting would be held if both the officials spoke in such a manner. He asked Malik to respond to the query, saying he was the relevant person to comment on the issue.

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Taking a dig at the officials present in the meeting, Abro said “bureaucrats use political people”.

Expressing his displeasure, Malik asked the PTI senator not to “degrade anyone”.

The committee chairman said the energy-related institutions should sit together and formulate a policy, adding that the estimate for the demand for gas should be made six months in advance.

Malik maintained that the petroleum ministry floats tenders for the import of gas according to the demand.

He said the previous government had stopped K-Electric’s 1000MW coal-fired power generation project on the assumption that the country already had enough electricity, adding that Cabinet Committee on Energy under Umar had taken the decision.

He said an agreement was reached against the development, promising the K-E to supply additional gas. He said the issue was of gas price and not its import.

The committee chairman noted that there were two or three suppliers from whom the gas was purchased and suggested that the ministry should relax the Pepra rules and buy the commodity from other companies as well.

The state minister maintained that the government was holding talks with various countries for the purchase of gas and oil and hoped that these matters would be finalised soon.

The petroleum ministry officials told the meeting that the previous government had opposed the gas import.

PTI Senator Abro said the governments accuse each other, adding that it was the bureaucracy which framed the policies and “painted a positive picture” of the government.

Responding to Senator Rukhsana Zubairi, the state minister admitted that the government was purchasing gas at $17 per unit and supplying it to the industrialists at $9 per unit.

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