No doubt, the natural gas is a clean, safe, efficient and environment-friendly fuel. The global natural gas market is rising, driven by the accessibility of shale gas and the rise in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade. International research reports mention that LNG offers a viable route to monetize large gas reserves in remote locations like Sub-Saharan Africa, which have no significant markets nearby and only limited connectivity to existing demand centers.
Experts noted that LNG is quickly playing a bigger role in the energy mix and the market for it is predicted to boost at around 5 percent yearly. International demand could rise from its present level of about 240 million tons per annum (mtpa) to almost 430 mtpa in 2025. Furthermore, LNG trade is changing to meet the evolving needs of buyers, counting shorter-term and lower-volume contracts.
In Pakistan, the Ministry of Finance mentioned that the natural gas shares almost 46 percent of the total primary energy supply mix. Pakistan has an extensive gas network of over 12,202 km transmission 119,736 km distribution and 32,823 services gas pipelines to cater the requirement of greater than 8.4 million consumers across the country by offering about 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) natural gas.
The present Government of Pakistan is pursuing its strategies for improving indigenous gas production also imported gas to meet the rising demand of energy in Pakistan. The Ministry of Finance statistics also show that during July-March FY2017 the LNG import stayed at 129,092,714 mmbtu as against to 62,373,272 mmbtu during the corresponding period last year. The average natural gas consumption was about 3,654 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) counting 410 mmcfd volume of RLNG during July 2016 to February 2017. During July 2016 to February 2017, the two gas utility companies (SNGPL and SSGCL) have laid 814 km gas transmission network, 4,153 km distribution and 1,162 km services lines and connected 104 villages/towns to gas network.
The government statistics also mentioned that during this period, the gas utility firms have spent Rs. 17,925 million on transmission projects, Rs. 11,183 million on distribution projects and Rs. 14,925 million on other projects bringing total investment to about Rs. 44,033 million. During this period, 360,824 additional gas connections counting 360,465 domestic, 339 commercial and 20 industrial were offered in the whole country. The Finance Ministry also projected that gas will be supplied to almost 414,723 new consumers during FY2018. Gas utility firms have planned to spend Rs. 12,702 million on transmission projects, Rs 43,045 million on distribution projects and Rs. 8,462 million on other projects bringing the total investment of Rs. 64,209 million during FY2018.
On the other hand, pursuant to government’s investor-friendly measures, Pakistan has become the world leading CNG user country with greater than 3 million NGVs (Natural Gas Vehicles) plying on the roads. Presently greater than 3,416 CNG stations have the CNG marketing licenses in Pakistan. However, keeping in view the mushroom growth of CNG stations in the country vis-à-vis depletion of natural gas reserves, the government officials mentioned in a statement that the present government has imposed a ban on establishment of new CNG stations in Pakistan w.e.f. 07.02.2008. For sustainable growth of this sector, the government has also accepted provision of RLNG to this sector with fiscal incentives of GIDC at the rate of zero and sales tax at the rate of 5 percent.
In addition, since March 2015, 83 LNG cargoes have been handled at the LNG terminal. The terminal has re-gasification capacity of 600 mmcfd. Moreover, 2nd LNG terminal has also been awarded to Pakistan Gas Port Company Limited (PGPCL) by the Government Company i.e. Pakistan LNG Terminal Limited (PLTL).
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) mentioned in its state of the industry report 2016-17, with an addition of 300,000 gas consumers every year, Pakistan’s gas shortage is predicted to touch 4.0 bcfd almost equal to current total supplies in 2 years and will go beyond 6.6 bcfd by 2030. The report also mentions that the shortfall in gas is predicted to reach 3.999 bcfd by FY2019-20 and the gap will reach 6.611bcfd without imported gas by 2029-30. The province-wise statistics explained that Punjab and Sindh stayed the major gas consumers with about 47 percent and 43 percent shares respectively. On the production front, Sindh, Balochistan and KPK contributed 56 percent, 13 percent and 12 percent shares respectively.
I would like to mention here, natural gas is our country´s main source of fuel accounting for 50 percent of all energy consumption. And this statistics have been a constant feature for decades. It is utilized not only for producing energy, but also by industry for manufacturing and fertilizer production. Many people use it to fuel their vehicles, and Pakistan has one of the largest networks connecting households which use gas for cooking and heating.