Low en­ergy

Enterprise - - Letters - Shazia Parveen, Karachi.

We are rapidly run­ning out of the en­ergy needed to keep houses run­ning and in­dus­tries afloat. The gas load-shed­ding prob­lem, al­ready crip­pling much of Pun­jab and Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), could now ex­tend to Sindh. Ac­cord­ing to the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Sui South­ern Gas Com­pany, gas losses which oc­curred for sev­eral rea­sons had re­sulted in a short­age of the fuel and could re­sult in Karachi fac­ing load-shed­ding over the next two months. Some parts of in­te­rior Sindh are al­ready fac­ing the prob­lem. The en­ergy sit­u­a­tion across the coun­try seems to be de­te­ri­o­rat­ing quickly. The rea­son is tied in to neg­li­gence over a pe­riod of many years and a fail­ure to cater to ris­ing de­mands. It should not have been hard to pre­dict that pop­u­la­tion growth would lead to en­hanced needs for fuel of all kinds. At present, while a few new fields of gas have been found, sup­plies from es­tab­lished fields such as Sui and Badin are on the de­cline, mean­ing that gas sup­ply is es­sen­tially static while de­mand con­tin­ues to rise. The SSGC has also said a ma­jor rea­son for the gas losses it con­fronts is the di­lap­i­dated state of the 56,000 kilo­me­tre pipe­line net­work which car­ries gas to cities, towns and vil­lages across the coun­try. There has been too lit­tle work on pre­vent­ing cor­ro­sion of th­ese pipes and, as a re­sult, valu­able gas sim­ply slips away.

The fig­ures main­tained by the com­pany which pro­vides gas to the south­ern provinces of Sindh and Baluchis­tan in­di­cate that 58 per cent of gas losses are due to theft, 38 per cent due to leak­ages and 15 per cent due to in­ac­cu­rate me­ter­ing. The MD made a sig­nif­i­cant point when he stated that the re­stric­tion placed on new con­nec­tions in 2011 had led to an in­crease in gas theft. Steal­ing means no rev­enue comes in to the com­pany while gas con­tin­ues to be drained from the sys­tem. Per­haps the con­nec­tion pol­icy needs to be re­con­sid­ered, but only in tan­dem with new ini­tia­tives to ac­quire gas as swiftly as pos­si­ble. The gas pipe­line deals be­ing worked out with Cen­tral Asian coun­tries and Iran will take a lit­tle time to ma­te­ri­alise. Till then, the SSGC and its north­ern coun­ter­part the CNGPL have plans to bring in im­ported liq­uid pe­tro­leum gas (LPG). But adding this to the sys­tem will ob­vi­ously in­crease the cost given the high prices of LPG. There are also ad­di­tional prob­lems such as de­fault by ma­jor gas users in­clud­ing Pak Steel and K-Elec­tric. Pak Steel owes the SSGC Rs38 to 39 bil­lion while a deal with K-Elec­tric is be­ing worked out over dues. Th­ese are is­sues that have con­tin­ued month af­ter month, year af­ter year. The de­lay in tack­ling them has led to the cri­sis we face to­day. The shut­off of gas sup­plies to in­dus­tries one day a week in Sindh and to CNG sta­tions for three days ev­ery week af­fects mil­lions. We can­not con­tinue to live like this. We des­per­ately need en­ergy and a strat­egy to bring it in quickly, whether this means re­sort­ing to al­ter­na­tive en­ergy re­sources or de­vel­op­ing other ways that can help meet the ba­sic needs of peo­ple and of our econ­omy.

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