ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Thursday said that all the CNG stations will have to be closed in January as the country was mired by acute gas shortage.

The minister told National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum on Thursday that the gas pressure was low to the extent that gas supply to all consumers would have to be suspended if the CNG stations were not shut next month. CNG closure is already being observed for four days in Punjab. Sindh and other areas of country are also facing CNG short supply. Earlier, speaking to the media in the Daultala area of Gujjar Khan on the inauguration of Adhi Oil Field, the minister said gas supply to industries will also be slashed as the gas shortfall has reached to one billion cubic feet and the emergency would stay in the during January 2012. Ensuring the supply of gas to domestic consumers is top priority of government, he remarked. Previous governments and agreements executed by them were behind the profiteering on gas products, he claimed.

Dr Asim asked the representatives of CNG associations to ‘stop lying’ and shun ‘plundering’ the people, saying they were earning a debilitating profit of Rs20 per kilogram on CNG. He said they should provide gas at lower and reasonable rate to people and abstain from politicking on this matter. He went on say that petrol had become a very costly product therefore; prices of CNG would be enhanced.

Earlier on Wednesday, the petroleum ministry finalised a summary of hikes in gas prices and has sought formal approval from the prime minister. According to the summary, consumers will face a hike between 14 and 207 percent in order to generate Rs385 billion for gas utilities and import projects. If the summary is approved, the price of CNG would rise from Rs67 per kilogramme (kg) to Rs80 per kg – a hike of Rs13 per kg.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) will cost an additional Rs14 per kg after the imposition of Petroleum Levy worth $120 per tonne on locally-produced LPG. This hike would generate Rs4 billion in additional revenue for the government in a year. Dr Asim during his visit to the Adhi Field distributed Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme (BESOS) certificates among employees of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) working there. The event was attended by MNA Raja Parvez Ashraf, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Karamatullah Khan as well as local representatives and media. On the company’s behalf, PPL Board Chairman Hidayatullah Pirzada, Petroleum Concessions Director General Sher M Khan, who is also a PPL director and others were present at the event. Adhi Field, around 70 kilometres south of Islamabad, is a joint venture of PPL (operator), OGDCL and Pakistan Oilfields Limited (POL). Daily average production from Adhi Field is around 39 MMscfd gas, 1,800 barrels per day NGL, 3,800 bbl oil and 125 tonnes LPG. Currently, 9 wells are on production at Adhi Field from Tobra-Khewra Reservoir and two from the Sakesar Formation.