ISLAMABAD - Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday directed Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) to provide uninterrupted gas supply to the CNG stations of Potohar region as per schedule.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued these directions while hearing review application of SNGPL and contempt of court petition moved by the owners of the CNG stations. He also directed the SNGPL to reinstall the CNG stations gas meters that they had been removed.

Earlier, the SNGPL had filed a review application while saying that they were facing hardships to provide natural gas to the domestic and commercial consumers at full pressure due to the high court’s stay orders against the indefinite closure of CNG sector.

The single bench of IHC also heard the contempt of court application filed by the owners of 77 CNG stations against SNGPL officials for restraining them from operating their business despite the court directions.

It was on December 20 when Justice Siddiqui had restored gas supply through an interim order after 77 CNG stations had contended that it would be an economic murder of the people related to this sector.

The SNGPL and ministry of petroleum in their review application prayed to the court to vacate stay orders of December 20, where the court through an interim order had restored supply of the gas as per previous schedule of three days a week.

The SNGPL adopted that there is acute low pressure of natural gas in the twin cities due to the stay order. The gas distribution company moved the court through Hafiz Ullah Yaqoob Advocate and argued before the court that the domestic and commercial users were the priority of the gas distribution company.

“The court’s stay order has caused great inconvenience to the SNGPL as the domestic and commercial consumers were suffering badly. In winter season the pressure of gas is very low.” he contended.

The counsel further argued that domestic consumers are facing acute shortage of gas and they would stage protests and it would also create law and order situation for the administration. Referring to the gas load management policy of 2005, the counsel said that domestic and commercial sector is the SNGPL’s first priority, power sector second, industrial and fertilizer third, cement sector and power fourth and the CNG sector is on fifth among the priorities of the government.

The counsel contended that the decision for not supplying gas to CNG sector was a day-to-day administrative affair and could not be challenged through a petition. He said that there was no mention of uninterrupted supply of gas to the CNG sector in the terms and condition of the filling stations.

“If the CNG gas station owners were aggrieved due to government’s decision they can challenge the same before Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA),” he maintained. The SNGPL produced statistics before the court. As per these statistics the gas distribution company is getting 1.6 billion cubic feet gas per day (bcfd) against total requirement of 2.8 bcfd. The total consumption of domestic consumers of twin cities is 100 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) in summer season. During winter season it increases to 280 mmcfd.

The statistics suggest that total requirement of domestic consumers along with CNG sector is 400 mmcfd while SNGPL is receiving only 220 mmcfd.

In contempt of court petition, the owners of CNG stations adopted before the court that SNGPL officials have removed the gas meters from some of the filling stations. Petroleum Ministry’s counsel Mir Aurangzeb contended before the court that because of acute shortage of gas the government decided to suspend its supply to CNG sector during the extreme cold weather as under the Natural Gas Allocation and Management Policy 2005 and it was the right of the domestic consumers to get the supply on priority basis.

He informed the court that the federal government did not flout the court orders as after the issuance of stay order since December 20, the distribution company has sold Rs50 million natural gas to CNG stations. The officials removed meters from those filling stations only that were defaulters or had violated certain rules.

After issuing the aforementioned directions, the court deferred the hearing till first week of February for further proceedings in this matter.