In light of dwindling gas reserves within the nation, the Caretaker Power Minister, Muhammad Ali, has disclosed that, as per the load management strategy, gas will be made accessible to consumers for a mere eight hours daily.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Minister Ali candidly acknowledged, “Loadshedding of gas has been an ongoing challenge over the past few years, and it will persist this year as well due to our insufficient gas reserves to sustain a 24-hour supply.” He further noted that natural gas reserves have diminished by an alarming 18% when compared to the previous year.
However, a glimmer of hope emerges as Minister Ali anticipates the resolution of the gas shortage issue for industries in December. This optimism stems from the finalization of two liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes, which are poised to bolster the gas supply.
Despite confronting multiple constraints, diligent efforts are underway to ensure an adequate gas supply for domestic, industrial, and fertilizer sectors in the upcoming winter season. Minister Ali highlighted the procurement of two LNG cargoes for December, which aims to ameliorate gas supply concerns, particularly for industries and the fertilizer sector.
Shifting focus to the crackdown on electricity theft, Minister Ali reported that approximately Rs16 billion has already been recovered from electricity defaulters during the ongoing enforcement drive, which will persist.
Moreover, a noteworthy development involves the planned overhaul of the boards of directors (BoDs) of all power distribution companies (DISCOs). These DISCOs are set to be handed over to the private sector on long-term concessions.
In recent developments, the Petroleum Division has been fine-tuning a proposal to raise gas tariffs, which is slated for presentation in an Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting for approval. Following approval by the federal cabinet, the new gas prices will take effect not from July 1, 2023, but from the date of cabinet endorsement. The government is committed to stringent measures, even affecting protected residential consumers, to mitigate the burgeoning circular debt in the gas sector. As a result, certain protected consumers within specific consumption slabs may witness a gas tariff increase ranging from Rs300 to less than Rs500 per MMBtu.