NATURAL GAS

DR. S.M. ALAM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

June 28 - July 04, 20
10

Gas, which is often associated with liquid petroleum, is known as natural gas. Natural gas is a vital component of the world's supply of energy. It is one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful of all energy sources.

Natural gas is colorless, shapeless, and odorless in its pure form. It is combustible and when burned it gives off a great deal of energy. Natural gas is clean burning and emits lower levels of potentially harmful by-products into the atmosphere.

We require energy constantly to heat our homes in winter, cook our food, and generate electricity. It is this need for energy that has elevated natural gas to such a level of importance in our society, and in our lives. Natural gas is a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. While natural gas is formed primarily of methane, it can also include ethane, propane, butane, and pentane.

TYPICAL COMPOSITION OF NATURAL GAS

Methane 70-90%
Ethane 0-20%
Propane .
Butane .
Carbon dioxide 0-8%
Oxygen 0-0.2%
Nitrogen 0-5%
Hydrogen sulphide 0-5%
Rare gases trace

Natural gas has many uses residentially, commercially, and industrially. Found in reservoirs underneath the earth, natural gas is commonly associated with oil deposits. Production companies search for evidence of these reservoirs by using sophisticated technology that helps to find the location of the natural gas, and drill wells in the earth where it is likely to be found. Once brought from underground, the natural gas is refined to remove impurities like water, other gases, sand, and other compounds. Natural gas can be measured in a number of different ways. Production and distribution companies commonly measure natural gas in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf), Million Million of cubic feet (MMcf), or Trillions of cubic feet (Tcf). Natural gas is a fossil fuel. Like oil and coal, it is essentially the remains of plants and animals and microorganisms that lived millions and millions of years ago.

Underground organic matter also at high temperature and pressure of earth over thousands years is converted into natural gas. This mineral fuel is actually a mixture of different low boiling hydrocarbons. In fact, this gas and petrol are different forms of the same thing. The only difference is that gas is formed from lower hydrocarbons and petrol from higher hydrocarbons. When the mixture of oil and gas is collected in big tanks, the gas is separated out. Natural gas is a good source of energy.

NATURAL GAS IN PAKISTAN

Pakistan has significant oil, gas, coal, mineral ore deposits as well as solar and hydel potential. The oil and gas are the two major components of Pakistan's energy and contribute more than 75 per cent of energy requirement of the country. A big deposit of natural gas estimated to about 9.625 trillion cubic feet was discovered at Sui in Bugti tribal area, Balochistan in 1952. Sui gas was the seventh largest gas field in the world and the biggest in Pakistan at that time. From that day, the natural gas got name and fame as 'Sui Gas' all over the world. At time, it was the fuel of choice quickly replacing firewood, coal and kerosene in the domestic sector. Pakistan Petroleum Limited discovered some more deposits of natural gas at Zan in 1954, Och in 1955, Khairpur in1957, Magarani in 1958 and Khan Kot in 1959. Esso Eastern discovered the second biggest gas deposit of 86,862.7 MMCF in Mari in 1957.

Oil and Gas Development Corporation also discovered the deposits of natural gas in Sai Sang near Karachi in 1967. It also discovered natural gas from Dhodak and Radho in district Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab and from Pir Koh in Mari Bughti in Balochistan. Other gas fields are Adkhi, Badin, Bhit, Khasan, Kandanwari, Kandkhot field Khan field, Mari, Miano, Mizra, Sawan, Toot, Zamzama, Zarghun, Sinjhoro, Golarchi and Mubarak areas. Many other gas companies are involved in searching gas fields.

The Sui gas field accounts for 26 per cent of Pakistan's gas production and the daily production is around 660 million cubic feet. The country's two gas distribution companies are in the north, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), which distributes gas in Punjab, Sarhad and A&K and in south, Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd (SSGPL), which distributes gas in Sindh and Balochistan.

Natural gas is piped from gas wells for use as fuels in the homes, industries and into thermal electric power stations in the different parts of the country. The biggest consumer of gas is the power sector, which uses it for generating electricity. Nearly 42 per cent of the gas fuel is used in the power sector. Industry uses another 19 per cent. The next big consumer is the fertiliser industry, which uses 16 per cent as feedstock for producing urea. Households or the domestic consumption is only 16 per cent followed by commercial uses of 7 per cent and others three per cent.

At present, the Sui Gas fields produce around 800Mcft of gas daily from 90 wells. Gas production has been increasing at a steady rate of 10 per cent annum. In fact, Pakistan has the best integrated gas supply system amongst the developing countries of the world.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and Compressed natural gas (CNG) are the mixture of hydrocarbons gases used as a fuel in heating appliances, fuelling vehicles etc.

Pakistan has 10 LPG producer, over 80 LPG marketing companies and over 5,000 LPG distributors nationwide. About 95 per cent of LPG is produced locally. Compressed natural gas provides a smoke-free and cheaper gas to vehicles. The cars owners have fixed CNG kits in their vehicles to reduce their fuel expenses. Pakistan has the world's highest number of vehicles running on CNG. Presently, the number of vehicles using this gas are over 2 million (1st in the world) and the number of CNG stations are 2,600. Argentina and Brazil, Iran and India are at second, third, fourth and fifth places in using CNG kits in their vehicles.

The commercial requirement of energy in the country has doubled over the last decade, with the demand for natural gas growing at 10 per cent per annum. Pakistan is also emerging as the preferred transit route for energy in the region due to its ideal geographical location at the crossroads of Central Asia and the Arabian Sea. Talks have been settled for the construction of a gas pipeline from a western neighboring country to cater to the energy requirements of the country. This has given a new dimension to the transnational gas pipeline projects, which are seriously being considered to cater to the energy requirements of the region.