ISLAMABAD -  A parliamentary committee was informed on Monday that the transit agreement on Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) had been finalised and India would give transit fee to Pakistan and Afghanistan under the arrangement.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Chaudhry Bilal Ahmad Virk. The official of Interstate Gas Systems (ISGS) informed that the transit agreement on Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan and India (TAPI) had been finalised and India would give transit fee to Pakistan and Afghanistan under this project. For the pipeline, Afghanistan will charge Pakistan and India a transit fee and Pakistan will charge India the same amount. The ISGS official further informed that work on clearing mines in Afghanistan on TAPI route had been started.

Regarding the Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline project, the committee was informed that Iran was still facing sanctions and work on section from Gwadar to Iranian border would be started after sanctions are removed.

The committee was also informed that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) will start selling high quality diesel from next week. “High quality Altron X diesel would reach in couple of days and PSO would start marketing it within a week,” PSO Managing Director Imran Sheik said while briefing National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources.

About the introduction of efficient and environment friendly fuel, the PSO managing director apprised the committee that an initiative, to introduce efficient fuels, was taken to improve the quality of fuels in the country to meet international standards. He said that petrol and diesel available for vehicle was resulting in higher pollution, damage to engine and poor air quality. He further informed that both the fuels were available at all PSO outlets across Pakistan. The committee appreciated the introduction of Altron Premium and Altron X fuels by PSO. The committee termed it a positive step in reducing carbon monoxide contamination of the environment besides improving mileage and efficiency in vehicles.

Secretary Petroleum Arshad Mirza said that money collected through Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) was being spent on gas pipelines. Director General Gas informed the committee that the government had collected Rs170 billion through GIDC so far.

The Committee expressed its concern on the low pressure of gas during peak hours in various parts of the country. The committee directed the Ministry of Petroleum to direct management of SNGPL and SSGCL to address the issue of low pressure of gas. The committee decided to take up the issue in its next meeting.

The Petroleum secretary said that the country was facing 4 billion cubic feet per day gas shortage. Nawab Ali Wassan protested over gas load shedding in Sindh and said that the province was facing more gas load shedding than other provinces. He said that the SSGC managing director did not respond whenever he was approached for resolving complaints.

OGRA Chairperson Uzma Adil Khan informed that regulator would not give LPG refueling licenses to those CNG stations that were defaulters. She said that OGRA had received 35 applications for setting up LPG retail outlets. She said that OGRA did not hold any public hearing after retirement of Member Gas Amir Naseem due to quorum issue. She said that gas distribution license was issued to Karachi based company after fulfilling all legal requirements. She said that company had filed application for license nine months back and regulator had held public hearing.

Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had objected to name of the company that was changed later as Gaseous Distribution Company (GDC). The Member Gas was going to retire and therefore, license was issued after one day the company was registered to avoid quorum issue. She said that only name of company was changed and no director or other thing was changed. Had the regulator to conduct public hearing again after retirement of Member gas if it would not have issued license, she questioned.

The committee was apprised that OGRA in pursuance of OGRA Ordinance, 2002 and LPG (Production and Distribution) Rule, 2001 granted 35 LPG Construction Licenses to sites co-located with CNG Stations and 7 LPG marketing licenses. The OGRA chairperson further apprised that in line with the earlier decision of the Standing Committee, OGRA had obtained affidavits from the applicant companies confirming that no liability/default against the bills of any department/company were pending against applicant/CNG Station owner and were sent to respective gas companies for verification and response from them was awaited. She assured the committee that no defaulter company applicant would be granted license until clearance of outstanding dues.

The committee had directed OGRA to serve notices to companies granted LPG Marketing Licenses and LPG Construction Licenses to LPG auto refueling station co-located with CNG Stations for recovery of outstanding bills of gas distribution/utility companies. The committee further directed OGRA not to allow conversion of defaulter CNG Stations to LPG till they clear the dues of utility companies. The committee also approved the social welfare guidelines for utilisation of social welfare fund by Oil Exploration and Production Companies.

The meeting was attended by National Assembly Members Malik Ihtebar Khan, Muhammad Afzal Khokhar, Rana Afzaal Hussain, Syed Muhammad Saqlain Shah Bukhari, Mian Tariq Mehmood, Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan, Ch Khalid Javaid Warraich, Nawab Ali Wassan, Roshan Din Junejo, Shehryar Afridi, Imran Khattak, Abdul Waseem, Sajid Ahmed, Akram Khan Durrani, Shahjehan Muneer Mangrio, Nasir Khan Khattak, special invitee and senior officers of the concerned departments.