ISLAMABAD               -            The Petroleum Division (PD) Friday rejected many news reports based on letter of Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah to Prime Minister responding to press briefing by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nadeem Babar on gas supply issue in country.

It is clarified that Petroleum Division has not rejected Sindh government’s demand that gas needs of the province should be fulfilled first nor such recommendation is under consideration. The Petroleum Division strongly refutes such assertions. During CCI meeting held on December 23, 2019, both the SAPM and CM Sindh had agreed to categorize LNG as gas and the subsequent jurisdiction of OGRA to determine its price; they had also agreed to the SAPM’s visit to Karachi, subject to CM Sindh’s availability, to discuss the subject of Weighted Average Cost of Gas (WACOG), gas distribution and pricing through constructive discussions.

It is also noteworthy that any gas discovered in Sindh has been allocated to SSGCL during the present government’s tenure. The reporting of SAPM’s interpretation of Article-158 has also been misconstrued. The interpretation of Article 158, as viewed, by the Petroleum Division was presented in CCI,i.e. Citizens of Pakistan (not any particular province) have the first right of use given that citizens are ultimate owners of this resource. Any use beyond domestic consumers needs to be decided amicably between Federation and Provinces under Article-158.

The media reports about wheat, as an analogy are also mis-reported as SAPM had stated that government also maintained uniform procurement and release policies on all items like petrol, electricity, water and wheat. It is worth mentioning that Sindh produces approx 2,243 mmcfd, out of this 1200-1300 mmcfd is put in SSGC system while approx 700 mmcfd is provided directly to power and fertilizer sectors in that province.

After netting out gas supplied by SSGC in Balochistan, there remains 400-500 mmcfd of gas that goes out of Sindh. It must yet again be reiterated that even if Sindh’s interpretation of Article 158 is applied, Sindh will be short of gas in two years. On the contrary, the federal government would wish to uphold the positive spirit of CCI meeting wherein it was mutually agreed to reach decisions on distribution of gas to Sindh in a collaborative manner. It is therefore, in the interest of Sindh and not just the Federation, to arrive at a mutually agreed structure for supplies, distribution & pricing of natural gas in any form to ensure uninterrupted supplies to the country.