DISRUPTION IN GAS SUPPLY
Forces load shedding in major cities
By AZAM ALI
Jan 17 - 30, 2005
The attacks on the gas pipelines by unknown miscreants in Balochistan has taken a serious turn with the disruption of gas supply to the domestic, commercial and industrial consumers which consequently affected the socio-economic life last week.
Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), which had completely shifted from fuel oil to gas to generate around 1200 mw was the immediate sufferer of the disturbed gas supply situation. The SSGC had already suspended gas supply to power generation sector following the incidents of sabotage of the gas pipelines.
Consequently, the power generation sector was the first victims to pay the price, which ultimately is passed on to the consumers.
In a way, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) had to announce rationing of the gas supply to the domestic consumers by announcing load shedding or gas management schedule from Saturday last. Actually, the impact of the disruption of gas supply was wide spread as a large number of industrial consumers were also facing problems in proper supply of the natural gas.
The CNG stations, which is a sensitive area in view of its public dealings was also affected due to shortage of gas causing a panic like situation especially in major cities like Lahore and Karachi. The transporters and commuters had to face problems due to suspension of CNG supplies at various outlets.
Karachi and Hyderabad cities may face acute problem due to disruption of supply during the load shedding schedule announced on Saturday said Senior General Manager, SSGC, Hassan Nawab.
Since the CNG filling stations operate under the same distribution network, they cannot escape from the load shedding said the SSGC official.
All Pakistan CNG Dealers Association Chairman, Abdul Sami Khan has sent an SOS to the Federal Minister of Natural Resources and to the SSGC and SNGC to take up the matter as top priority in order to normalize the situation. He said that CNG filling stations started closing down in the small hours of this morning and at least 10 out of 102 such stations have already closed down in the city. Sami said that after every five minutes he is receiving a call of closure of a CNG filling station. There is a fear that all the 700 filling station in the country would be close down by this evening if an emergency step is not taken immediately.
Meanwhile, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) Ltd announced yesterday that the protracted closure of the Sui Purification Plant has resulted in a significant reduction in the supply of gas across the country and declared a load-shedding Program. A spokesman for the SSGC said that although the SSGC had Endeavored to manage the distribution of gas to its customers in Balochistan and Sindh, the pipeline stocks or line pack was getting depleted. This has necessitated the adoption of urgent measures to restrict the supply of gas to domestic as well as industrial customers, he added.
The SSGC has decided that effective January 15, the supply of gas will either be reduced or suspended daily, therefore, the following schedule has been announced by the company: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., he said.
The Gas Load Management Program of the company will affect the following cities of Sindh and Balochistan and their adjoining areas: Karachi, Hyderabad, Kotri, Nawabshah, Sukkur, Larkana, Quetta, Pishin, Mastung and Ziarat, the spokesman said. He said as an important safety precaution, the SSGC advises the consumers to close the valves of their gas appliances, not only during the time that the supply is reduced but also when gas appliances, such as burners or water heaters, are not in use. This will ensure that further restrictions in supply, particularly to domestic customers, do not have to be put into effect, he added.
At least four people, including two personnel of the defence security guard (DSG), were killed and five others wounded during a heavy exchange of fire between security forces and unknown armed men in Sui on Tuesday last. Due to attack on Sui gas complex, the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) suspended gas supply to various industrial units in the country. Talking to PAGE Sui administration official said seven personnel of the DSG sustained multiple injuries when Unknown-armed men attacked their positions with rockets from different directions. The officials of the Sui Tehsil said that unknown armed men who had taken positions in the hilly area started firing on the Sui gas complex around 1:10 pm on Tuesday that continued for an hour. Later, they again launched attack around 3:00 p.m., which continued till 6:30 p.m. The DSG and the FC personnel retaliated the attacks. Two DSG personnel, identified as Havaldar Muhammad Ashraf and Sepoy Mukhan Khan, and two passers-by, a teenage boy and an unknown, died on the spot while five other DSG men sustained injuries and shifted to the hospital, where they are in stable condition. Independent sources from Sui said that the numbers of causalities were high as compared to the official figures. They claimed that over five people were killed and seven others wounded on Tuesday, adding dozens of rockets and mortar shells were fired from both sides. Meanwhile, the management of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) suspended the operation of the Gas Purification Plant in Sui, owing to the safety situation, said the PPL spokesman.
Consequently, the supply of gas from Sui field has been temporarily suspended to fertilizer factories and power plants in other parts of the country, he added. He said around 4:30pm, the anti-state elements attacked on the Sui gas field with automatic weapons and rocket launchers, target the gas installations. As a result, some gas pipelines within the plant got damaged, resulting in gas leakage. Disruption in gas supply to the industrial units of NWFP was continued on second day, which has closed down all the units. The Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) in view of growing consumption of the gas by its domestic consumers has stopped its supply to all the industrial estates of the province on Monday last. This disruption of gas has put all the industrial units at halt.
In fact, such incidents of sabotage may have serious implications on the credibility of the country and may cast shadows on the regional gas pipelines from Iran or Turkmenistan.