ISLAMABAD

With fast depleting gas reserves, government continued with policy of giving new gas connections, giving rise to the fear that prevailing gas crisis would worsen next year.

According to data, ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has provided over 1.863 million gas connections to domestic consumers while 19117 to commercial and 2420 new connections to industrial consumers, during last five years. These connections were provided during 2009-2013.

Pakistan’s current gas production is 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), with the shortfall is around half of that. The shortfall in demand and supply piled up since 2001, after new connections were granted generously and no addition to gas supply was made.

In 2011, the shortfall in demand and supply of natural gas was one billion cubic feet per day (bcfd).  According to official data, in 2011, it was estimated that if new connections were not restricted gas shortfall would reach more then 2 BCFD, in 2014-15.

Three years back, the ministry of petroleum further forecasted that the gap between demand and supply would increase to 3 bcfd in 2015-16 and 3.5 bcfd in 2016-17. The gap is estimated to peak at 5 bcfd by 2020-21, unless major discoveries and field developments are made in the coming years.

But nobody bothered about the forecast and the ministry continued to provide new gas connections to domestic industrial and commercial consumers.

According to sources if the present policy prevails by next year more 0.2 million gas connections will be provided to domestic consumers, 4000-5000 to commercial consumers and industrial sector may also apply for 500 new gas connections.

According to official estimates in 2014, even if new connections are restricted, but electricity generation through gas is continued, and fertilizer sector continue to burn gas as raw material, there would be no gas in the country in next 15 years.

Apart from granting new licences, no addition of new gas supply to national lines has resulted in depletion of national gas reserves, officials said.

According to Ministry of Petroleum data, the gas production in 2013-14 was 4.1 BCFD whereas in 2014-15 the gas production will be 3.8 BCFD, considerably lower to previous year. Due to this decrease in production and increase in demand, the government may not be able to provide gas to CNG sector in next winter season, it was learnt. The supply to fertilizer and industry may also be curtailed to meet the projected gap of 2.5-3 BCFD in year 2015. Despite these all measures the officials fear that most of the residents of urban areas may also receive little or no gas during peak hours next year.

It was also learnt that even if LNG is added to national network by coming year, the gap is so large that LNG would have little or almost no affect in gas crisis.