Industrialists seek PM’s intervention in resolving gas supply issue

Shahnawaz AkhterWeb Editor

23rd Jun, 2021. 08:02 pm
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KARACHI: The industrialists on Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of the gas situation in Karachi and directed the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to immediately restore supply to industries, a statement said.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Shariq Vohra criticised the gas utility’s decision and said the industries in Karachi were already facing other issues and cannot afford any kind of interruption in their production activities due to gas suspension.

If SSGC, as per its claim, was facing gas shortfall of 200mmcf to 250mmcf from Kunnar-Pasakhi Deep (KPD) gas field and Engro Terminal, then this shortfall could have been surmounted through the re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) for the time being but instead of doing so, they announced abrupt suspension of gas supplies to the industries, which was totally unacceptable, as it would prove disastrous not only for the business community but also for the economy and the public, he said.

“The business community had always been kept in the dark about [the] supply of RLNG, which is highly unfair. We need to know what is the quantum of RLNG retained by SSGC and what is the sale volume of RLNG to [the] consumers in Sindh and Balochistan, as we apprehend that the factual position is that they are selling more quantum of RLNG than what they are purchasing; therefore, we feel that this shortage can also be minimised if the quantum of RLNG, which is being purchased by SSGC should be more than what they are selling and not the other way around,” Vohra said.

“As far as our knowledge is concerned, around 150mmcf to 200mmcf RLNG was being supplied to [the] industries and we have also been told that SSGC has been restrained from retaining RLNG and there are orders that the entire volume of RLNG of 1,200mmcf should be given to the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited.

“What will happen to these industries in Karachi to whom supply of 200mmcf RLNG, including KE was committed? It’s a double jeopardy, as in addition to supplying gas from Sindh’s indigenous resources, RLNG is also being handed over to SNGPL. In such a problematic circumstance when the Kunnar-Pasakhi Deep gas field and Engro Terminal were simultaneously going on a turnaround, what is going to happen to industries in Karachi? He asked, adding that this turnaround could have been scheduled during the forthcoming holidays of Eid-ul-Azha.”

The KCCI president said gas suspension to the industries in Karachi would cause layoffs, revenue losses to the industries and to the national exchequer.

The ongoing gas crisis in Karachi has become a very serious issue that needs to be probed because at a time when the industrial activities were gradually returning to normalcy, some elements in the system abruptly intervened and created gas shortage, which is going to result in a closure of several factories, he added.

A similar kind of situation was created when SSGC disconnected supply to 225 industries in Karachi in the name of replacing it with the power supply. Vohra feared that if the gas crisis persisted, it would become difficult for the industries to ensure smooth supply of goods for the local markets, as well as for the export industries and the shortages would trigger inflation.

The hardships being faced by the business community of Karachi due to gas suspension needs to be given special attention and prompt resolution, otherwise the situation would have a serious impact on the industrial performance and the economy, besides triggering massive unemployment and poverty, he said.

“Therefore, we would earnestly and fervently appeal to the prime minister to constitute a committee to investigate this incident and also the incidents, which [had] harmed the industries, in the past. We further appeal to suspend this programme of closing down the industries for a period of 21 days until an alternative way out is devised, while the consumers, who are the biggest stakeholders in this whole gas business, must be consulted and taken on board in these kinds of critical situations,” he added.

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