About twenty years ago, a huge projection error led by the misdirected and misinformed bureaucracy and business community led to the introduction of CNG in Pakistan. In a nutshell, they thought we had enough gas. Enough gas to be comfortably able to divert 10% of our total supply to the transport industry and about 3000 CNG stations littered across the country. Nobody, it seems, in the planning commission did the basic calculations to realize we would need at least 6 billion cubic feet a day (bcfd) by 2015 to meet our needs. Today, Pakistan produces about 4 bcfd in total. Of that, 1.9 bcfd comes from Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) and 1.3 bcfd approximately produced by Sui South. The remaining suppliers are small gas fields, (0.8 bcfd) but their gas is not put into the main pipeline.

Today, Pakistan is about 2 bcfd short of its needs. If the planning commission and experts had done their research right, they would have realized their projections were completely off. There was no credible logic for building a new industry for transportation based around CNG. But it sounded rather wonderful at the time which explains why so many people fell for the rhetoric. It would take roughly 8-10 kg of CNG to fill up a car at Rs. 40/kg. Essentially, you could fill up your car in less than Rs. 500. What could be more of a miracle?

Now it seems, the optimistic projections for gas supply were no less miraculous.

Gas that should have gone to fertilizer, to powerhouses, and domestic cooking, was instead diverted away to the transport industry which should have always been well down the priority list. Billions of rupees were spent in investment, buses introduced, stations opened up. And now it seems, the same illogical pattern is being followed with the introduction of LNG imported for political gain, which will be almost five times the price of CNG. The fact of the matter is, with no value addition in our economy, LNG is a luxury Pakistan cannot afford. After all, who exactly will it be viable for? Who will be able to afford imported LNG?

We must face it. The CNG industry is dying. We cannot meet gas production for our own, most basic needs. Without shale gas and fracking technology (long term factors), the CNG industry must be closed down permanently. Stop waiting, stop queuing, stop hoping it will get easier; most of all, the people of Pakistan must stop being made fools of and being made to invest in a hopelessly failed industry.