The availability of sustainable energy will be one of the most important issues for Pakistan’s economic development over the next decade. Pakistan’s energy requirement is increasing rapidly every year. The primary energy consumption in Pakistan has grown by almost 80 percent in the past 15 years from 34 million tonnes oil equivalent (TOE) in 1994-95 to 61 million TOE in 2009-10.
Currently the country’s energy supply comes primarily from indigenous natural gas which is 45 percent of the energy mix and oil imports at 35 percent of the energy mix, with the balance coming from hydel power at 12 percent, coal at 6 percent and nuclear energy at 2 percent of the mix.
Natural gas has provided major support for Pakistan’s economic growth over the past several decades. Pakistan’s conventional gas reserves are, however, declining and the country needs to enhance its capability for exploration and production of offshore and unconventional gas reserves and to arrange significant gas imports via pipelines and as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The current “circular debt” is also a major issue for the energy sector and has become a significant barrier for energy development in Pakistan. It was in this backdrop that customers of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) were subjected to substantial gas shortage for 22 days, from April 11 to May 4, when annual maintenance of Bhit gas field was undertaken and the company could not supply gas to the affected consumers from an alternate gas field.
Addressing a press conference, SSGC Deputy Managing Director Azim Iqbal Siddiqui said that gas supply to industries, the fertiliser sector, CNG stations and the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) was to be curtailed as a result of the 22 days loss of supply from Bhit, which is among the three major gas fields of SSGC. It produces more than 31 percent of the company’s total gas. Total sales of the company stand at 1,100 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd), of which Bhit produces 345 mmcfd.
“SSGC has tried its best to maintain the maximum gas supply to its customers during the maintenance period of the Bhit gas field; however, we are facing the need to share this pain collectively,” he said. Industries are SSGC’s biggest customers, with consumption of 310 mmcfd. SSGC discussed the matter with representatives of the various industrial associations. KESC is normally provided 180 mmcfd, which was reduced to around 100 mmcfd due to the maintenance. CNG stations use 74 mmcfd, but were provided only 64 mmcfd.
The SSGC deputy managing director also met representatives from the fertiliser sector, which was severely hit as gas supply was reduced to 40 mmcfd from 85 mmcfd.
Siddiqui requested domestic consumers to reduce their gas consumption during maintenance period. “Our domestic consumers will be unaffected in this maintenance,” he said, adding that domestic consumers could easily save 10 mmcfd, which would greatly help the company. The share of domestic consumers in gas consumption is around 187 mmcfd