Winter season: domestic consumers bracing for more gas outages

Domestic consumers are bracing for long hours of gas outages as they are receiving supplies for only eight hours a day to meet cooking needs amid growing demand of gas in current winter season and non-availability of expensive imported LNG on spot purchase.

The gas deficit in the country for the winter season 2022-23 has been worked out at 1.35 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day). The gas deficit would stay at 900-1,000 mmcfd in the SNGPL system that covers Punjab and KPK.

The gas availability in the SNGPL system remains in the range of 1,520 mmcfd (770 mmcfd of local gas plus 750 mmcfd of RLNG) against the demand of 2,100-2,500 mmcfd.

The gas availability in the SSGCL system would be in the range of 925-1,000 mmcfd against the demand of 1,250-1,500 mmcfd. The gas deficit in the SSGC system has been estimated in the range of 250-350 mmcfd.

The main problem on the SNGPL network, particularly in Punjab, is due to the scarcity of gas. Punjab’s own gas production stands low when compared with other provinces which include Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan.

Under Article 158 of Pakistan’s Constitution, gas producing provinces have the first right to consume their own production. Therefore, in the peak winter, the energy situation is better in other provinces but the domestic consumers in Punjab is worse off as they are getting gas for cooking purposes in the morning, afternoon and evening for limited hours.

At present, the total number of gas consumers in Pakistan is 10.65 million. Of these, Punjab has 6.43 million consumers and KP 997,904 consumers. In Sindh, the consumers are calculated at 2.92 million while Balochistan has 304,468 consumers.

Over the past many years, the gas supply has deteriorated with no major discoveries and fast depletion of existing reserves. Estimates suggest gas flows will drop further and go down to 1,659 mmcfd in 2029-30.

Currently, the average sale price of natural gas stands at Rs 400 per MMBTU whereas the RLNG cost is at $ 14 per MMBTU. The Petroleum Division wants the differential to be paid by consumers through the revenue requirements of gas utilities. Under the amended act, RLNG is no longer called a petroleum product but has been renamed as a gas of which the cost can now be recovered from domestic consumers through revenue requirement petitions of Sui Southern and Sui Northern.

According to industry experts, after a major discovery in the Qadirpur field before the year 2000, there have not been any big finds in the country.

The shortage has also caused the shutdown of industrial sector that is the backbone of the economy.

Earlier, the imported LNG was provided to consumers like captive power plants and fertiliser producers at discounted rates. But now the expensive LNG is not available in the country due to its rising demand internationally in the wake of Russia-Ukraine war.

The government is importing 20,000 MT LPG to supply the domestic consumers and provide at Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) determined rates to save the precious resource for expansion of the industrialisation base and boosting exports.

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