KARACHI - Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Syed Naveed Qamar has called for further expediting the LNG Project in order to meet emerging supply shortages. He said this while talking to the media at SSGC head office after a comprehensive presentation given to him by the companys senior management. The minister said that SSGC was a foremost public utility whose importance in the economic development of the country can hardly be overemphasized. Umair Khan, MD SSGC, welcomed the minister on his first visit to the company since recently assuming the portfolio. Azim Iqbal Siddiqui, Deputy Managing Director presented a snapshot of the companys infrastructure, gas supply sources and current financial performance. G A Sabri, Special Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, was also present on the occasion. The minister was informed that in 2008-09, out of 300 towns and villages in Sindh and Balochistan, gas was provided to 232 towns and villages in Sindh and the rest in Balochistan. This achievement marked the highest number of towns and villages in the companys franchise areas being supplied gas in during any fiscal year and was a far cry from the situation exist in 2002-03 when the company provided gas to 20 towns/villages of Sindh and 5 to Balochistan. The management also discussed with the Minister some operational and functional issues and presented necessary recommendations. The management discussed the looming shortage of indigenous gas production to meet emerging shortfalls and called for fast-track gas production and speeding up of new discoveries. The Minister was also told that UFG levels set by OGRA stands to reduce profit margins substantially. The sliding benchmark, the management said needed urgent review to keep UFG levels at around 7%. On the subject of customer services, the Minister was told that 25 Customer Facilitation Centres are currently operating in the franchise areas of Sindh and Balochistan with more such centres planned to be opened in the near future. In his presentation, Naim Sharafat, Senior Project Manager, LNG apprised the Minister about the present status of Pakistan 'Mashal LNG Project of which the Company is a facilitator. He said that in December 2008, the Company issued a conditional Letter of Support (LoS) to 4Gas after obtaining approval of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. Qamar hoped that the project will be implemented by early 2011.