ISLAMABAD - Petroleum Ministry has approved in principle new gas load management plan, under which no gas would be supplied to the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), fertilizer, industrial sectors and Captive Power Plants situated in Punjab province from upcoming December to February, sources said on Wednesday.

The sources also told that a meeting was held under the minister for petroleum and natural resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss and approve the new gas load management plan for upcoming winter season. The meeting approved that natural gas supply would remained suspended in December, January, and February due to expected worst kind of gas shortfall in peak chilly season. The meeting was informed that Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) would have to face a shortfall of 1400mmcfd while Sui Southern Gas company Limited (SSGCL) would face 400mmcfd during the said span of time. Due to estimated gas shortage in peak winter season, a decision to suspend natural gas supply to CNG filling stations, industrial and fertilizer sectors and captive power plants (CPPs) has been taken. However, phase wise decrease in the supply of gas to the above said four sectors would be made in the region of SSGCL. And, domestic gas consumers of both utilities would get gas supply on priority basis. They told that the ministry would table this new gas load management plan in the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet for final approval. Since Ishaq Dar Finance Minister is in Turkey on an official visit so the next ECC would be held after his return and it is expected that the ECC would also approve the plan, they added.

“Closure of gas supply for the industrial sector and CPPs would be the first event in the history of Pakistan and this sort of tough decision has been taken only to facilitate the domestic consumers,” a senior official at petroleum minister whispered while talking to this scribe on late Wednesday. He said the final approval would be obtained from federal cabinet’s economic coordination committee (ECC).

Viewing the expected gas shortfall during chilly winter season, country’s state-owned gas utilities in their dispatched gas load management plan had proposed the petroleum ministry to stop natural gas supply to the CNG filling stations, fertilizer sector and Captive Power Plants during next December, January and February.

Likely worst kind of gas shortfall in peak winter season would cause suspension of natural gas supply to the CNG, power (CPPs) and fertilizer sector of the country. This shocking disclosure would end the hope of 3.7 million CNG consumers desperately expecting a sigh of relief from the PML-N government. This proposed plan if successfully gets necessary approval of the ECC then the masses who are already bearing the brunt of sky rocketing prices of petroleum products (POL) would be deprived of the cheap fuel facility during the peak winter season. The closure of CNG for two long months would also increase the import bill and would ultimately increase extra burden on national kitty besides worsening the miseries of CNG consumers and general public in the shape of hike in the prices of oil and essential commodities.

On the other hand, yesterday when contacted with senior stalwart of All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) to know his point of stand over the proposed supply suspension of natural gas to the CNG filling stations, Ghiyas Abdullah Parcaha first deplored over the shocking news and later declared that the CNG association would not allow the incumbent regime to increase woes and worries for the CNG sector. He said,” We would announce our strategy the day after tomorrow as a meeting is scheduled with petroleum minister today (Wednesday) while another is with the officials of oil and gas regulatory authority (OGRA) on Thursday.” He said like outgoing PPP-led regime the incumbent PML-N government is also following the ill-conceived suggestions and policies of the bureaucracy with regard to once robust CNG industry of the country. 

Ghiyas Abdullah Parcaha also told that members of the executive committee of the APCNGA have reached here in the federal capital to devise a unanimous strategy against the unannounced gas load shedding, gas pricing and the state of affairs in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and in the gas utilities. The meeting of executive members would devise strategy how to deal with the issues being faced by the CNG sector, he added.