Sindh is planning to close all CNG stations throughout winter in the light of the looming shortage of gas in the coming days. The decision is a pragmatic one. The state’s irrational policies in the past regarding the introduction of CNG transportation as well as power generation on gas are coming back to haunt us today. They are the leading causes of acute gas shortage during the winter season every year. There is a need to revisit the policy of using natural gas as vehicle fuel. Unfortunately, natural gas resources are stretched, and the new gas reservoirs are not enough to cover the shortfall.

Making natural gas a prime energy source was and will always remain the wrong choice. Additionally, the pricing of natural gas was not based on the principle of scarcity and optimal utilisation. It was severely over-allocated, under-priced and excessively misused although we never had a natural gas surplus. In the last few years, CNG has become ‘the fuel’ to invest in for fuel stations. The state promoted the use of CNG to reduce pollution and the massive import bill. While these were visible benefits of using gas as a cheap fuel for vehicles, we overlooked that the practice will deplete our natural gas resources tremendously.

The CNG stations’ owners will likely resist the decision to move away from using it as a fuel source for vehicles. They can exercise their political influence as well to reverse the decision. However, the authorities must stand by the decision. The company has made the right choice if the principle of utility is taken into consideration. We need to start switching away from it now before it all comes crashing down to the ground. As far as an instant solution is concerned, a multi-pronged strategy has to be deployed to mitigate the forthcoming gas crisis. Along with closing CNG stations, the authorities must rationalise existing gas resources and import liquefied gas.