ISLAMABAD - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved the resolution of the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) Board to allow amendment in its master plan to accommodate the prospective 3rd LNG terminal.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting of ECC. Petroleum Division briefed the Committee about the utilization of Railways services for transportation of petroleum products to upward country. In order to enhance supply of PSO products to Pakistan Railways, the Committee directed the Petroleum Division to divert the surplus business to Pakistan Railways that offers lowest freight charges as compared to other modes of transportations.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research updated the Committee about wheat stock position in the country.

Giving presentation to ECC, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs emphasized about the urgency of establishment of third terminal at Port Qasim Authority (PQA) so as to meet the gas shortage in the country in the years ahead. In order to expedite the process of establishing of 3rd LNG terminal, the Committee approved the resolutions of the PQA’s Board by exempting the Authority from public tendering for appointment of legal consultant through negotiated tendering. The Committee also approved the resolution of the Board to allow amendment in PQA master plan to accommodate the prospective 3rd LNG Terminal. It may be recalled that the ECC in its decision, in February 2019, had directed Ministry of Maritime Affairs to expeditiously work on setting up of an additional LNG terminal.

The maritime affairs had told the ECC that because of the urgency, Jharri Creek/Chann Wadoo appeared to be the most appropriate area for setting up the new terminal as it will have no adverse impact on normal port traffic, since the site was on an alternate channel, away from the main port, which would be connected through pipeline network of about 25km. Also, the drought/depth at the location was feasible to accommodate large LNG carriers (Q-Flex vessels), thus reducing some charges. Moreover, the proposed site should be developed as a future LNG zone and PQA should be authorised to invite applications for development of one LNG Terminal within twenty months of award of contract. PQA board should also be advised to work out the modalities to ensure safeguarding the interest and with proposed terms and conditions.

The existing two LNG terminals at PQA were contracted on take-or-leave basis costing the government more than $0.5m per day, having additional undue financial burden. There was also the need to ensure that the supply of LNG was not interrupted due to war or any other contingency and this should be in the contract that FSRU is not withdrawn by the owner on any pretext whatsoever.