ISLAMABAD - While contesting the claims by former finance minister Miftah Ismail, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi has said the RLNG terminals set up under the PML-N government were not the cheapest, in fact, they were amongst the most expensive globally.

The two leaders locked their horns on the issue of RLNG terminals, their cost, efficiency and LNG agreement as they took to twitter to prove their respective point.“

“A 5 million dollar question is why Ali Zaidi, Ports Minister, is tweeting about LNG terminals, which is responsibility of the Petroleum ministry. Of course his tweets are full of innuendoes & falsehoods. Why this personal attack on me?” responded Miftah as Ali Zaidi said, “The data clearly shows dozens of terminals cheaper than the two developed by PML-N. Miftah is caught misrepresenting facts, just like his corrupt leadership.”

Miftah further said that Petroleum Division had issued very political and misleading tweets in reaction to my earlier tweets. “Before that too the Energy Ministry had issued a factually incorrect press release attacking me that was not worthy of response.”

Ali Zaidi said, “Let’s clear some facts now that Miftah Ismail has decided to open the pandora box on LNG/LNG terminals. Firstly, terminals set up under PML-N government are not the cheapest. In fact, they are amongst the most expensive globally.” 

“Miftah’s claim that tariff on terminals is guaranteed! Below is OGRA determination of March 2020 of terminal tariff charged to customers. It clearly states $2.2895/MMBTU & not $0.44 cents/MMBTU. This is called capacity charge, payable to operators irrespective that we use them OR NOT,” Zaidi tweeted.

RLNG terminals set up under PML-N govt most expensive globally

Miftah says Zaidi’s tweets full of innuendoes & falsehoods

Miftah said, “Ali shows the OGRA worksheet from March 2020; I am also attaching the OGRA worksheet from June 2020 where 6 LNG cargoes were regasified at both LNG terminals and the regasification rates were 39 cents and 40 cents. This clearly proves Ali’s falsehoods.” 

“Will Miftah care to explain why Azam Sufi the then head of PLTL was asked to resign? Facts are that he was rightly not budging on liquidated damages assessed on the 2nd terminal set up by PGPCL & some other illegal orders of Miftah & his boss Khaqan Abbasi,” Ali Zaidi added. Miftah, responding to the allegation, said that “one there was no loss at PLTL till PML-N was in charge and two, Sufi as MD PLTL did not report to me.”

Ali Zaidi further asked, “Can Miftah enlighten if a certain ‘son in law’ met Petroleum Ministry officials to negotiate a side settlement with the PML-N government to waive the LD charges on PGPCL of approx $50 million?”

Miftah responded: “I can only laugh at his absurdity and will let PGPL answer this falsehood it they wish to. CC: Atif, Mehmood Moulvi.”

From Sept 1 to the date the Ministry sent the press release, the PGPL terminal was running at 475 MMCFD against the contracted capacity of 600 MMCFD. 

The former finance minister also rejected petroleum division’s claim saying that a 17km long pipeline was required to give more gas to Karachi. This again was not true. They could give more gas to Karachi if they wished with the swap mechanism that our government used to induct 400 MMCFD RLNG in the SSGC gas network and gas in upper Sindh was inducted into the SNGPL network. Moreover, even if their assertion was true, which it was not, did the ministry need 2 years to build a 17km pipeline?

Miftah alleged that “PTI government loves running power plants on Furnace Oil which produces less than two-thirds as much power as LNG per rupee of fuel, and on Diesel which costs about three times more than LNG per unit of electricity. This June & July the government was producing power through Diesel & Furnace Oil while there was excess terminal capacity to import more LNG, losing billions of rupees exchequer. No wonder Circular Debt now is at its highest & is MORE than the Federation’s share of ALL Federal taxes.”

He said, “The Petroleum Division claims that PML-N bought long-term LNG at 13.37% of brent whereas it is buying spot LNG at 10%. Seriously? Can the Division deny that ALL of Pakistan’s LNG contracts were substantially less than the market in the timeframe that they were signed?”

“The Petroleum Division was too busy importing Furnace Oil and Diesel for power plants and made no long-term contract. Why? Is this not a dereliction of its fiduciary duty? Public is smart enough to figure out why is it being done and who are benefitting from this policy.”

Miftah further said, “Petroleum Division talks about giving permission to LNG terminals without government guarantees. PML-N set up two terminals urgently with government guarantees which ensured the fastest provision of gas and the cheapest terminal costs. The Engro/SSGC/PSO terminal has always run on full capacity. If the Division had procured more LNG instead of deferring or diverting LNG cargoes it could have run the PLTL/PGPL terminal on full capacity too, thus making any Govt guarantees superfluous.” 

He said Third Party Access (TPA) rules were also made during our tenure and consumers in Pakistan imported LNG directly. “But the $5 million question remains: why hasn’t work started on any Merchant LNG terminal in two years? The most intellectually dishonest and seriously laughable assertion made by the Petroleum Division is that we supplied LNG to our new gas-fired power plants to produce more expensive power. Does the Petroleum Division know the cost difference between operating a 32% efficiency FO power plant and operating a 62% efficiency gas power plant?”