Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan warned that the country’s natural gas production is declining rapidly and there will be gas load shedding in the coming winter, as Sindh, the top gas-producing province, will not have additional gas to supply other provinces.
“Total demand for gas in the country is up to 7.5 billion cubic feet while the production is 3.5 billion cubic feet. The rest is imported and provided with subsidy which also increases the circular debt”, said the minister while briefing the Senate Functional Committee on Less Developed Areas. The committee met under the chairmanship of Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar on Thursday.
The minister informed the committee that there will be gas load shedding in the coming winter as well due to the decline in local gas production and increase in demand and all provinces have to decide together on gas shortage.
“Until next year, Sindh will not have gas to give to anyone.” He said that all the issues have been discussed in the Council of Common Interest (CCI). A conference will be held in Islamabad soon in which chief ministers and experts from all provinces will also participate and a consensus strategy will be adopted after which the report will be submitted to the CCI.
Committee chairman said that the decision of GIDC has come and it is better than the government can solve the gas problem of the less developed and backward areas with this amount. On which the Federal Minister said that there is a list of projects for which the money will be spent.
Kakar said that gas coming out of the Balochistan province goes all over the country. Balochistan province consists of backward areas where people are very poor and therefore, a resolution was passed in the Upper House that different slabs of gas rate should be made for Balochistan province and subsidy should be given to the people but it was not implemented.
Members of the committee said that there is a joint family system in Balochistan province and many families are living in one house. More than one meter should be allowed in the houses. On which the Chairman OGRA told the committee that it is the job of the federal government to fix the slab or rate. The people of Balochistan should get a subsidy and the problem can be solved with Rs. 5 billion subsidies.
Kakar said that the problem may be solved by adding this issue to the agenda of the technical experts’ conference. He said that gas should be provided to the people of Balochistan province on subsidy which is strongly recommended by the committee and the committee also directed to implement the resolution passed by the Senate as soon as possible.
The committee meeting reviewed the issue of regularizing 13 engineers from Balochistan province. Kakar said that the matter was also raised in the Petroleum Committee. These engineers should be regularized under Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan package.
Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub said that these engineers had gone to court. They should withdraw their cases from the court after which they would be made permanent.
The committee discussed the issue of setting the air mix plant for Balochistan. The committee was informed that the matter regarding the installation of an air mix plant was raised in ECC.
The CCI has decided that all LPG air mix plants already approved by the ECC on which work has not yet started, except two operational air mix plants in Awaran and Bella and the one near completion in Gilgit, installation of all airmix plants should be stopped.
Chairman of the committee said that a gas pipeline was requested for Sherani, Muslim Bagh, Musa Khel, Loralai, Zhob, Qila Abdullah, Khuzdar and other areas, then an air mix plant was promised and the land was provided for it. Now it is being said that the cost of the plant is high.
Secretary Petroleum said that earlier matters were decided in Islamabad. For the first time, the provincial government of Balochistan has also been included in the consultation for those projects. It is better to use gas cylinders to meet the energy needs of these areas.
On which the chairman of the committee said that double standards should be stopped. Air mix is cheaper for the area of the Chief Minister and it is expensive for other areas. A province should get equal rights.
MD SSGC said that consultation is underway in the Planning Commission and the decision will be taken by the Board and will be implemented. The Deputy Chairman Planning is working on it.
The chairman of the committee said that the survey conducted by the agency was also incorrect. The population has been shown less and gas consumers should also include shops.
Bugti said that such a mechanism and strategy should be adopted which would benefit the region for the next 50 years. At the next meeting, the functional committee summoned the deputy chairman of the planning commission and the concerned agencies to find a solution to the problem. The committee recommended for installing air mix as soon as possible to facilitate the public.
The committee sought details from OGRA, Ministry of Petroleum and companies of concessions in Dera Bugti and other areas and details of expenditure incurred on CSR including expenditure on security. The committee was informed that out of 413 km, 300 km gas network About the 413 km gas network in Malakand Division and PATA work has been worked on and the rest is being expedited. 72% work has been completed. The project will be completed by 2021.