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Gas shortage cripples domestic, industrial life

From naan shops to tea vendors and even industries, no group has been spared the gas shortage

Gas

PHOTOS: MOHSIN RAZA/BOL NEWS

LAHORE: The natural gas crisis has, once again, re-emerged all over Pakistan as soon as temperatures took a dive in December, plunging towns and cities into an atmosphere of gloom as citizens struggle to strive for basic necessities such as cooking and commuting. Moreover, the capacity of industrial units has slowed down causing a hindrance in production and consumption.

What is more, domestic consumers across the provinces are being bombarded with heavy bills while they get little or no pressure during peak timings.

Simultaneously, tensions have risen among consumers as prices of the alternative sources of fuel such as gas cylinders skyrocket; refilling them is another added cost to existing financial woes.

A four-kg LPG cylinder comes at a high cost of Rs1,200 in Lahore which triggers the purchase of substandard cylinders that are not only used in households but in sources of transport such as rickshaws, vans and buses that puts passengers at risk. From naan shops to tea vendors and even industries, no group has been spared the shortage.

What’s behind the gas crisis?

One main reason for the crisis according to experts is that local discoveries of gas have reduced, leading to the depletion of domestic gas reserves. The supply has fallen to 3,300mmcfd from 4,300mmcfd. Likewise, the RLNG that is imported has also seen a dip. Previously, it used to supply 1,200mmcfd but is now adding just 1,000mmcfd of gas.

Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Javan Bakht recently responded to the Textile Mills Association and assured that the issue would be resolved.

“Industrial development and the revival of exports is the top priority of the government,” he said.

People’s woes

Pakistan’s deepening gas crisis is adversely hitting the domestic sector much more harshly than the industrial sector, especially in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. But Punjab is also feeling the pinch.

“I have been getting up much earlier than usual to take a shower since December started as the gas shortage causes the geyser to shut down at specific times. It has made my routine much more hectic than it already is. And that too, just because of a shower,” says Mahnoor Naqvi, a graduate of the Punjab University working at a call centre.

Alizeh Khan, a housewife residing in Rawalpindi has complained that she is unable to provide her husband and seven-year-old son breakfast and dinner on time due to the gas crisis that is prevalent.

“My husband and son leave for office and school at 8am sharp but I am unable to complete my cooking on time due to the gas supply problems,” she observed.

Recommendations

An awareness campaign is needed among people to conserve as much energy as possible. The gas companies and the government need to develop awareness programmes for the conservation of gas and promotion of cheaper incentivised electricity for water and space heating.

The government needs to increase capacity of existing and new private LNG terminals and virtual pipeline projects to fill the supply gap by channeling more gas from abroad.

At present, the country faces a shortfall of approximately 1,300mmfcd which can easily be overcome by adding import capacity of 600mmfcd.

However, there is no denying the fact that the energy problems of the country cannot be tackled in the long term without allowing exploration of untapped local energy resources. Imports may be a short-term solution.

The writer is a freelance contributor

 


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