ISLAMABAD - Recklessly pursuing money-minting motives at the cost of thousands of consumers, the Petroleum Ministry has directed to ban CNG stations located in residential areas besides declining renewal to 15-year-old CNG stations.

PPP-led government’s ill-conceived vision and policy to put a ban on once robust CNG industry has now entered in the second phase as the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources (MP&NR) has advised the regulatory authority Ogra to close down all those stations that are working in residential areas of the country. Consequently, around 900 stations would be closed with this decision.

Well-placed sources in the MP&NR aware of the development informed TheNation on the condition of anonymity that Advisor to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain had recently directed the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to immediately close down all those CNG stations that were located in residential areas and also cancel their licences. The Advisor had also directed the regulatory authority to avoid further allowing re-sitement to all those which fall under the category of closure.

It was also learnt that Ogra, however, had written a letter to the MP&NR on 13th July to give written directions in this regard for necessary implementation.

Ghias Abdullah Paracha a central leader of CNG association has said that it was not possible. “I think with this move, they wanted to park all vehicles which are on CNG and are forcing the vehicle owners to come on road in protest against the Advisor and the MP&NR policy and vision”, adding, that as petrol and LPG was not available in the country what else they wanted to do with the country and poor countrymen. 

It is worth mentioning here that earlier the MP&NR in a written directive had stopped Ogra from granting extension/renewal in CNG licences of operational stations on their expiry. CNG licences were granted for the period of 15 years with provision of a five-year extension. The government, however, has decided not to grant any extension to manage the shortfall of gas. Further, Asim on July 13 told Senate that due to continuous gas crisis, CNG stations would be closed down in phased manner.

Here, it is a matter of deep concern that in a bid to put a cap on once robust CNG industry the government had refused to renew licence of nearly 300 CNG stations thus paving way for the closure of all CNG outlets in three years’ time. However, many licencees have approached Ogra for grant of renewal in their CNG licences, but Ogra has now held up their cases. Currently 3,337 CNG stations are functioning in the country.

The CNG industry was set up in 1997 in Pakistan. It saw a massive boom due to high petroleum prices during the past decade and 3.5 million commercial and private vehicles were converted to CNG.

But Pakistan started experiencing gas shortfall in 2007, which worsened in the following years forcing government to put an end to CNG industry, which is estimated to be valuing more than Rs15 trillion.

Despite repeated attempts to contact with Dr Asim Hussain to get his stance over the much controversial matter of public interest but all remained in vain.