LAHORE  - Millions of households and commercial consumers Monday suffered badly as Sui gas was unavailable due to extremely low pressure in all main cities the province, including Lahore.

The root cause of the problem was the three SNGPL’s transmission pipelines blown up near Rahim Yar Khan Sunday midnight by miscreants.

The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited officials said the escaping gas from the ruptured point caught fire resulting in fatal injuries to two nearby residents.

It is expected that gas would partially be restored in the SNGPL network till Tuesday (today) morning. However, complete restoration might take another day. The incident caused around 700 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) shortfall in company’s network in addition to already existing shortfall of around 500MMCFD.

Around 70 per cent of areas of the provincial metropolis faced severe problem due to unavailability of gas for cooking and other necessities. Consumers of the SNGPL in Multan, Sahiwal, Okara, Faisalabad and Sheikhupura also faced the same situation. The company also cut the gas supply to industrial and main commercial units of the province to meet the demand of the household and their supply would be restored after completion of repair work.

A SNGPL spokesperson said that in view of the above and to avoid further losses, mainline valves were immediately closed to isolate the damaged segment of pipeline. “The explosion created a 50ft deep, 100 ft x 100 ft wide crater. Whereas, the 24” diameters pipeline in the same segment remained intact and is currently in operation, but more than 700 MMCFD gas supplies from the gas sources had to be curtailed due to limited capacity of the pipeline,” according to the spokesperson.

Currently, SNGPL’s team is working on the repair of 36” pipeline and completion is expected by Tuesday morning, whereas the repair of 30” and 18” pipelines shall be carried out subsequently. The company has advised the domestic consumers to minimise gas consumption by not using gas geysers and heaters.

RAHIM YAR KHAN correspondent adds: Describing the explosions as an act of terrorism, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd Managing Director Arif Hameed said the gas left in the system was utterly insufficient to meet the demand of domestic consumers in the province.

He said supply to independent power plants in the province had also been suspended. He added it might take over 48 hours to fully restore the gas supply.

Rescue 1122 teams, reaching the affected area along with police, reported that at least one woman had died in the explosions. They pointed out the losses would be assessed once the fire was extinguished.

Sources said it was a remote-controlled blast. The explosives were located near the gas supply arteries. The police opined the blast was a terror attack. The severe blaze occurred due to the blast that engulfed the nearby areas. Due to this blast, supply of gas to Punjab from Sui, Qadirpur Sawan, Pir Koh and Loti gas fields has been suspended.

Meanwhile, the textile sector urged Minister for Water and Power Kh Muhammad Asif to provide uninterrupted power supply to the Punjab-based textile mills from independent feeders to avoid negative impact on the textile supply chain due to the sudden gas supply disruption on the SNGPL network.

APTMA Chairman SM Tanvir urged the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources to expedite repair of the pipelines on emergency basis to save the national production losses.

According to him, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had assured uninterrupted energy supply to the Punjab-based textile industry in the wake of GSP Plus facility from the EU. Consequently, the industry became operational, but present disruption of gas supply due to a sabotage activity had panicked the textile industry at large.