ISLAMABAD - The government is likely to lift ban on new gas connections to commercial entities, industries, and housing societies, it has been reliably learnt

The government wants to provide new connections for the supply of imported re-liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to commercial entities, industries, and housing societies, and will present a summary to the federal cabinet to lift the ban, sources told The Nation on Sunday.

According to sources, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has submitted the summary for comments from various other ministries.

To control the chronic energy crises, in 2011, the previous government, of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), has imposed ban on new connections to commercial entities, industries, high-rise buildings, compressed natural gas (CNG) stations and housing societies.

The present government has removed the ban on residential connections, however the embargo on new connections to commercial, industries, and housing societies, was still intact.

The bar is creating hurdles for the provision of gas to these entities, and must be legally lifted prior to the provision of new gas connections, sources said.

Since the ban was imposed by the cabinet, therefore it is the only authorised body to lift it, and a summary will soon be moved for the approval of the cabinet, sources said.

However, the source said that the observation was raised about the new decision by the Planning Ministry.

It was observed that there was gas shortage in the country and the removal of ban could make the situation worse.

However, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has ensured that no locally produced natural gas would be provided to the commercial, industries, and housing societies and they would only be provided imported RLNG, the sources said.

The production of local natural gas is around four billion cubic feet per day (BCFD), while the demand reaches over six BCFD during winter season.

The country’s total gas shortage stands at more than two BCFD.

The power sector consumes around 30 per cent of the natural gas, followed by the domestic sector 21 per cent, fertiliser 19 per cent, captive power 10 per cent, general industry 10 per cent, transport seven per cent and commercial three per cent.

 To cover the supply-demand gap, the government has resorted to the import of LNG.

At present the country’s only LNG terminal, built by Elengy Terminal Pakistan Limited, with the capacity to handle 600 mmcfd of gas is operating at Karachi, and it is hoped that the completion of another LNG terminal, at Gwadar, will double the import to 1.2 BCFD.

However, even after the imported LNG supply, the country is still facing gas shortage and low gas pressure problem.

For instance, in January this year, the government had to shut down the RLNG-based CNG stations in Punjab for 18 days.

Besides three under construction re-liquefied natural gas (RLNG) power plants, with total generation capacity of 3,600 megawatts, will also require 600 MMCFD of RLNG for its operations.