ISLAMABAD - The number of applications for new gas connections on Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Company Limited (SNGPL) network is witnessing a gradual increase, as the backlog mounted to 2.5 million, putting a challenge for the company to meet the demand. “The company issued almost 400,000 new connections during the last fiscal year and it has planned to continue with the same pace during the current year, but it is facing difficulties as the existing gas reservoirs are depleting and the country could not make any significant discovery since long,” a senior official privy to petroleum sector developments told APP.

He said efforts were being made to bridge the ever-increasing gap between demand and supply of the commodity by adding more Liquefied Natural Gas in the system, encouraging Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) sector, accelerating oil and gas exploration activities in potential areas and taking the trans-country gas pipeline projects to logical conclusion at the earliest.

 The official said, National Assembly Standing Committee in its recent meeting had expressed concerns over the prevailing situation, asking the quarters concerned to evolve an effective strategy to accommodate maximum applicants as every citizen building new homes expected gas connection.  The committee also recommended the Petroleum Division to review existing policy about issuance of new connections, saying the gas companies, being commercial entities, should give gas connection to every residential unit as the maximum number of consumers would definitely help generate more revenue. Commenting on performance of the gas companies, he said the two state companies, SNGPL and SSGCL, under a strategy to reinforce and expand their transmission network, would lay additional 13,599 kilometers (KM) during current fiscal year.

The capacity of SNGPL and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) would be enhanced by laying additional 12,100 KM and 1,499 KM pipelines in their respective areas by June 2020.

The two utility companies would invest Rs 7,161 million on transmission projects, Rs 48,288 million on distribution projects and Rs 18,556 million on other schemes, bringing the total investment of around Rs 74 billion.

Answering a question, he said, the companies had laid 69 KM transmission, 3,232 KM distribution and 1,366 KM services lines and connected 165 villages and towns with their network during July 2018 to February 2019.

Pakistan has an extensive gas network of over 12,971 KM transmission 139,827 KM distribution and 37,058 services gas pipelines to cater to the requirement of more than 9.6 million consumers across the country.