The utility consumers generally get three bills,
namely Telephone bills, Electricity bills and the bills for the natural
gas at the end of the month. Relatively speaking, so far, the charges
for consumption of natural gas, as compared to other utility bills, are
so rationalized and affordable for the common man that one wishes to get
yet another bill instead of a single one. However this sense of comfort
vanishes soon when the consumers have the horrible sight of other
utility bills specially the electricity bills. The reasons for the
affordable price of the natural gas in Pakistan is obviously because the
nature is kind enough and has given plenty of this precious
environmental friendly fuel to Pakistan. However, this sense of
satisfaction seems to be temporary as under the pressure of IMF the
prices of natural gas too have to be increased in phases which, is
certainly a cause of concern particularly for the low income groups of
As far as quality of the services provided by SSGC
was concerned, undoubtedly it is superb and Munnawar Ahmed, newly
appointed Managing Director of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC)
desires to elevate SSGC to the top position amongst not only the public
sector but also the entire corporate sector in Pakistan.
Currently, SSGC having a strength of over 5000
workers including executives successfully catering to the needs of all
sorts of consumers in the province of Sindh and Balochistan. The sales
figures of the company speaks themselves about commendable growth which
has risen from over Rs20 billion in 1999-2000 to Rs25 billion in 2001
and Rs.32 billion in 2002. The net profits also went up accordingly from
Rs792 million in 1999-2000 to Rs1.4 billion in the current year, which
includes profits worth Rs489 million earned LPG businesses.
As compared to growth in consumption of oil, which is
static, or declining especially in the industrial sector, the demand of
natural gas continues to grow in the franchise area of SSGC. The total
gas supplies was estimated at 198,281 MMCF in the year 1999-2000 which
has increased to 234,553 MMCF in 2001-2002 registering a gradual
increase of 11.76 per cent during three years.
A break up of different segments of the consumers
show that in the Southern Region SSGC has a total number of 1,611,973
consumers which include 2,285 Industrial, 17,652 Commercial and
1,592,036 domestic consumers.
Although the overall situation regarding reserves of
natural gas in Pakistan is satisfactory as the country has enough
reserves to meet the demand for next 25 years. This situation places the
country into a safer zone as far as the sustainable supplies of the
natural gas concerned. This comfortable position gives Pakistan an edge
over India especially in the energy sector. India facing an extreme
deficit in supply of gas as compared to Pakistan which currently has
reserves to the tune of 22.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The
current level of gas production in Pakistan is 0.900 trillion cubic feet
a year and with this ratio of gas consumption country has enough gas for
next 25 years. As a result of the role played by the natural gas in the
economy of Pakistan it is saving at least $2.3 billion a year as an
import substitute for POL products.
However, situation demands for speedy development of
the gas resources within the country and from external resources in view
of the rapid increase in demand for natural gas following government
policies to switch over gas consuming sectors from oil to gas
especially, power generation, fertilizer, industrial sectors.
The demand of gas for power generation which was 1.1
billion cubic feet daily (BCFD) in 2000 is projected to go up by 1.8
BCFD in 2005 and 2.2 BCFD in 2015.
SSGC has a transmission and distribution network
which 2,782 km while the length of distribution lines is around 22,862
km, which speaks itself about the huge network, the Gas Company has to
look after. However in view of the increase in demand for gas, the
current target for connection of new gas fields namely Bhit, Zamzama and
Sawan will be linked with the net work by next year.
The transport sector is becoming as yet another major
gas consuming area with its rapid conversion from oil based to gas based
system. Although there are strong possibilities for gas recoveries
especially in the province of Sindh.
The power generation in the province of Sindh has
already been switched from thermal to gas fired system. According to
SSGC the total gas allocation is to increase from current 200mmc to
300mmc by next year which means KESC's entire power generation will be
shifted from oil to gas by next year.
The purpose behind switching over the power
generation from oil to gas was to cut down the cost of power generation.
As a result of exorbitant increase in furnace prices the cost of power
generation has also increased to such a level which, has not only
affected the input of the industries but has gone beyond reach of the
common man. It is hoped that use of natural gas for power generation
will reduce the cost of power and that benefit should be passed on to
the consumers also.