Govt Tightens Belts To Sail Through Winter Gas Shortage


Govt tightens belts to sail through winter gas shortage

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Dec, 2023) As country’s population continues to grow unhindered, the mounting number of households was exerting extra burden on the available gas resources with consumers often facing gas rationing.

Although the government has tightened belts to overcome the gas shortage, the issue needs a multi-pronged and long-term strategy to cope with this challenging situation.

The officials claim to tackle imminent energy scarcity head-on with an ambitious plan targeting a production and import goal of 1,958,820 tons of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) as our hydrocarbon reserves deplete by roughly 10% annually amidst escalating gas consumption.

In line with multifaceted initiatives to meet the country’s energy demand, Exploration and Production (E&P) companies aim to yield around 26 million barrels of crude oil, 1.3 trillion cubic feet of gas and 779,044 tons of LPG. Additionally, plans include an import of 1,179,776 tons of LPG and nine million tons of LNG during the current fiscal year.

Despite achieving slightly below targets during 2022-23, where production figures fell short marginally, the focus remains on augmenting hydrocarbon exploration activities nationwide.

“The country is currently facing insufficient gas production to meet the demand, with local gas reserves depleting by approximately 10 percent annually. At the same time, consumption continues escalating with each passing day,” stated Energy Minister Muhammad Ali.

“But, the government is actively working to improve infrastructure for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) supply across the country to meet the shortfall,” he said.

The minister informed that the government had ordered two Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) cargoes for December and one for January to meet domestic gas requirements. “Efforts are also on to revise LPG policy, with certain proposed changes and it would soon be presented to the cabinet for approval.”

As irrational and imprudent policies of the previous PTI leadership landed the country in real trouble, the outgoing PML-N-led government and the present caretaker set-up had to bear the brunt of these policies.

However, the minister assured to acceleration of exploration activities to meet the requirements of domestic, commercial and industrial consumers.

"We are coming up with an efficient gas policy as we are also focusing on increasing hydrocarbon exploration in potential areas,” he informed.

The country's potential in shale gas and oil, validated through a comprehensive 2015 study in collaboration with USAID, encompasses 10,159 trillion cubic feet of shale gas and 2,323 billion stock tank barrels of shale oil in lower and middle Indus Basin in Sindh and parts of Punjab and Balochistan.

The successful extraction of shale resources holds the potential to provide Pakistan with a sustainable supply of natural gas and oil, crucial against the backdrop of estimated recoverable gas resources by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In June this year, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed a Joint Implementation Plan (JIP) to expedite work on Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and complete the feasibility of the project at the earliest.

The pipeline will transport up to 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) (average 3.2 BCFD) of natural gas annually for 30 years. The supply source is the Galkynysh gas field in the Eastern region of Turkmenistan and Pakistan’s off-take in it will be 1.3 BCFD. The proposed route for the 1849-kilometre-long pipeline is through Heart, Kandahar, Chamman, Zhob, DG Khan, Multan and Fazilika.

The TAPI project is hoped to transform the energy sector and economy with low-cost gas supplies making our industrial sector competitive worldwide and generating employment opportunities for our youth.

Pakistan has an extensive gas network, spanning transmission distribution and service pipelines, catering to the needs of millions of consumers. Investment by gas utility companies in transmission, distribution and other projects signifies a concerted effort to meet escalating energy demands.

Importantly, the country's capacity for re-gasifying LNG seeks to bridge the gap between gas supply and demand, contributing to stabilizing consumption figures.

Presently, the capacity of two Floating Re-gasification Storage Units (FRSU) to re-gasify LNG is1200 MMCFD while RLNG is being imported to bridge the demand and supply gap as the government is also actively pursuing the target of 1,958,820 tons LPG production or import.

Gas utility companies have planned to invest Rs27,669 million on transmission projects, Rs77,484 million on distribution projects and Rs 8,746 million on other projects bringing the total investment of Rs113,899 million during the fiscal year 2022-23.

Seeing through the previous years, it is evident that after the serious gas crisis during the PPPP government (2008-13) tenure, things improved during the PML-N-led government during 2013-18. But, afterwards, the reluctant and untimely decisions of the PTI-led government, like many other areas, also worsened the situation in the oil and gas sectors.

But, once again the caretaker set-up has initiated efforts like detailed analyses, technology assessments and infrastructure evaluations to deal with the situation and OGDCL and United Energy Petroleum Limited (UEPL) have initiated drilling activities for shale gas and oil extraction.

As the government is cognizant of prevailing gas supply issues, there is a dire need for evolving a holistic approach to involve investors in more exploration and consumers to encourage prudent use of available resources to overcome gas load shedding.

APP/zah/maz (APP Feature Service)