ISLAMABAD - The government has increased gas price for captive power plants by Rs85/mmbtu, however it has decided to maintain the price at current level for domestic, commercial, industrial and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) consumers.

The decision was taken during a meeting chaired by Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqqn Abbasi here in the premises of petroleum ministry on Friday, sources said. Ogra has issued a notification to this effect.

Top officials of the ministry, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL), Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) attended this meeting.

The sources said the meeting approved the price hike for the captive power plants (CPPs), which are owned by the affluent millers and industrialists of the country. With this approved Rs85/mmbtu increase the price of gas for CPPs has surged to Rs573/mmbtu from its earlier price of Rs488/mmbtu.

A source disclosed that a decision to maintain the gas price for rest of the users was taken only because some six months ago the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had suspended the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC). Had the incumbent regime stick to its ‘price rationalisation plan’, the gas price for all users would have witnessed a big surge as the plan envisaged bringing it at par with the price of furnace oil/alternate fuels.

However, the petroleum ministry last week challenged the suspension of GIDC by the IHC in the Supreme Court and the government is most likely to increase the gas prices as soon as it gets a favourable decision.

The maintaining of gas price for all users other than the CCPc was appreciated by almost all quarters, especially the leaders of country's CNG associations. Senior leader of All Pakistan CNG Association, Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, when contacted, appreciated the decision. He said, “We are thankful to the premier and petroleum minister for this relief to general public and the CNG sector, which is facing severe gas loadshedding for a long time.