Syed Imran Ahmed, Chief Manager (SSGC)-Pakistan depends heavily on the consumption of natural gas whose contribution to the country’s total energy supply mix is around 51%. The country's gas reserves have, however, been on a decline since the year 2000. In 2004, for the first time, a strategy to provide Pakistan with an alternative energy resource was devised. A number of attempts were made to bring in fast track LNG into the country, yet for one reason or the other, none could materialize.

When the current government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took charge, the country’s energy supply issues were worse than ever. The country’s constrained demand for natural gas had reached 6 billion cubic feet per day while the local gas production hovered around 4 billion cubic feet per day. The widening demand and supply gap of natural gas was not only posing a grave threat to the accelerated economic growth but was adding to the hardships of the consumers, especially during the winters. In view of the widening demand-supply gap, the present Government of Pakistan chalked out an ambitious plan to augment gas supplies by implementing a multi-pronged strategy that included a fast track import of LNG, installation of LNG terminals and laying of a dedicated gas transmission line.

LNG as compared to liquid fuels provides greater efficiency, lower maintenance costs, ease of transportation, and no pilferage or adulteration issues. LNG import to Pakistan is crucial for reducing the production costs of thermal power by replacing furnace oil and improving the efficiency of the thermal generation plants. LNG is clearly the most viable and the fastest stop-gap solution to Pakistan’s energy needs.

The government followed an unbundled approach through which the LNG re-gasification terminal was separated from LNG procurement. The LNG Import responsibility was given to Pakistan State Oil whereas SSGC was entrusted the task of transmission and supply to Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Ltd., being the end-user.

In April 2014, a major step forward towards the import of LNG into Pakistan was taken when SSGC and Elengy Terminal Pakistan Limited (ETPL) inked an LNG Services Agreement that paved way for the construction of an LNG import terminal at Karachi’s Port Qasim in a record period of 335 days. This first of its kind terminal has the capacity for re-gasification of up to 600 mmcfd of RLNG.

In the same year, the Company’s team of engineers, technicians and workers, with an unprecedented local and foreign collaboration, started working on the RLNG Project - the biggest infrastructure development project ever undertaken in SSGC’s history. Undoubtedly the magnitude and scope of this mega project was overwhelming. In order to handle a project that entailed an incredible use of men and machine, the best way forward was to divide the project into 2 parts – RLNG-1 and RLNG-2 projects.

In June 2014, Team SSGC embarked on the first phase or the RLNG-1 project, undertaken to provide an infrastructure for supplying 400 mmcfd imported RLNG. By February 2015, the Company had successfully commissioned a 42” dia. 17-km pipeline from the Custody Transfer Station (CTS) in Port Qasim to SMS Pakland in Karachi, a 42’ dia. 4-km line from RS Nara to Sawan and a 24” dia. x 33 km Tando Massu line.

In order to boost gas pressure while it flows through the lines, SSGC project teams relocated from the Company’s Dadu facility, two idle compressors dating back to 30 years ago, and brought them all the way to SSGC’s HQ-2 Daur after getting their engines overhauled in Sweden.

These turbo compressors, each of 200 mmcfd volume were then installed to help achieve the desired delivery pressure of 1,115 pound per square inch gage (psig) at Sawan. The loop-lines, along with the relocation of the compressors, enhanced the Company’s transmission network capacity to swap 400 mmcfd of indigenous gas in lieu of RLNG to SNGPL. The import of RLNG into the country through these lines meant the openi