ISLAMABAD - In view of the worsening gas supply situation and low pressure, the government has ordered the closure of CNG stations in the Punjab for an indefinite period.

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), in a letter, asked both the gas utilities of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Company Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) to resolve the issue of low pressure immediately, giving a prompt response to such complaints.

In January, the government closed the CNG stations in the Punjab and Islamabad for three days, which was later extended for another three days. The CNG association was, however, informed Tuesday that the gas supply to the CNG stations would remain suspended till further orders.

In a recent meeting with the government officials, the CNG sector urged the government to improve the gas supply situation. For this purpose, SNGPL should stop or at least reduce the gas supply to industries because the closure of gas to the CNG sector would not resolve the issue of low pressure, the CNG association told the government, adding the CNG stations in the Punjab are only consuming about 55 mmcfd of gas whereas general industries are using up to 350 mmcfd of gas. However, the government side was of the view that at the moment they cannot suspend gas supply to the industries, particularly when the government is advertising the package worth billions of rupees to the industrial sector.

It is pertinent to mention here that the government last week announced Rs 180 billion package to boost the country’s exports over the next five years.

Besides, it was also noted that the issue of low gas pressure is not because of the gas shortage, but because of the system constraints. The problem of low gas pressure is usually faced by the consumers in the congested areas as the distribution pipelines are narrow there.

Meanwhile, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), in a letter, asked both the gas utilities of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Company Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL), to immediately address low pressure complaints, plan necessary system augmentation wherever required along with continuity of supplies and advertise energy conservation measures to overcome this seasonal phenomenon.

Complaints are rampant from domestic consumers all over the country, in particular, and commercial as well as industrial consumers, in general, against the low gas pressure. Such a low gas pressure is causing a great inconvenience apart from creating social economic concerns for all sections of the society.

Reacting to the government decision, all Pakistan CNG Association, Ghiyas Paracha, has demanded gas supply to RLNG-run CNG stations in the Punjab and Islamabad. According to a press release issued here, he said the CNG stations in the Punjab and Potohar consume imported LNG and not local gas, so there is no reason for the closure of RLNG-run CNG stations. “We are neither part of the gas supply priority list nor do we depend on the locally produced gas. If the government needs gas to meet the domestic demand, it should be taken from all the sectors with equal proportion,” he said. “It is a fact that after a long time the confidence of CNG consumers has returned towards CNG stations, which will be shaken again due to this decision. So the government should take steps to restore the confidence of the public and the CNG business,” he asserted.

In order to improve the situation, the gas utilities should put in all efforts to ensure adequate line pressure to meet the contractual obligations in line with the minimum performance and services standards notified by the Ogra, he averred.

Meanwhile, an official source told The Nation that the low gas pressure issue cannot be resolved with the closure of the Punjab CNG stations as they are just consuming 55 mmcfd of gas.