Although the real extent of the gas crisis is not known yet, citizens should brace themselves for an acute shortage in the coming winter season. The prime minister had already given a stark warning that we will face a severe shortage this year and the situation appears grim.
The government has already decided that domestic and industrial consumers will suffer shortages amid a major gas shortfall in the country during the winter season. Energy Minister Hammad Azhar has denied reports that gas will be provided only thrice a week and SSGC has also refuted issuing a gas schedule according to which gas will be supplied to domestic consumers thrice a day. However, it is certain that we are looking at a massive gas loading shedding again this year.
Hammad Azhar has stated that domestic gas reserves were depleting fast and the gas prices have not been increased since 2019. Pakistan meets around 70% gas demand through domestic reserves while the remaining 30% through import. LNG is very expensive as compared to local gas, yet the government is compelled to buy the commodity at higher rates.
The minister clarified that gas share of Sindh in total production was 38%, Balochistan’s share stood at 40%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa contributed 12% while Punjab’s share was only eight to nine percent. It is noteworthy that provinces are not sharing the gas crisis as per their contribution. In fact, federating units with higher shares are facing the adverse brunt of the gas crisis.
Pakistan is facing a major gas crisis again for several years. The local discoveries of gas have witnessed a dip and so domestic reserves have depleted. The local gas supply has fallen to 3,300 mmcfd this year and gas is being diverted to power plants, fertilizer sector, and export-oriented industries. Another major reason is the failure to set up LNG terminals and completing gas pipeline projects.
It is deplorable that the government has failed to prioritize the gas crisis except for blaming previous governments for importing expensive LNG. It is known that gas demand increases in winter but still the government was unable to make adequate preparations. The provision of gas at the bare minimum just for breakfast and meal times is insufficient. The prime minister must ameliorate the woes of domestic and industrial consumers for the nation’s development.