Caretaker ministers admit failure in resolving energy crisis

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LAHORE: The caretaker ministers admit failure in resolving the energy crisis and warn that the power shortfall could increase in the coming days due to multiple factors besides expressing intention of revising gas tariff mechanism upward soon.

This was stated by Caretaker Water and Power Minister Dr Musadik Malik and Petroleum Minister Sohail Wajahat while addressing a press conference here at Wapda House on Sunday.

The interaction with the media was organised on the sideline of a meeting held to discuss the power crisis in the country. Top leadership of all power distribution and generation companies were present on the occasion.

Musadik Malik said that daily fuel availability for thermal power generation had come down to 10,000 tonnes and gas supply also dwindled by 75 million cubic feet per day, resulting in steep reduction in power generation. He admitted that the present shortfall of electricity was recorded at 5,000mw.

Malik said a meeting had been convened by the prime minister in Islamabad today (Monday) to hammer out solution to lingering power shortage in the country. He expressed hope that the situation in supply of power could be improved in next two to three days. However, he said, owing to annual turnaround of Qadirpur Gas field, power generation could be affected badly in a week time when power demand would also be high. In the absence of required fuel supply, reduction in gas quota for power sector would be unwelcoming step and might results in severe deficit in power supply, he said.

Malik admitted that the present power crisis was also an outcome of mismanagement and bad governance. We removed chiefs of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) and National Power Control Center (NPCC) due to negligence and mismanagement, he observed.

He claimed that the decision was taken to ensure implementation of uniform and prudent load management plan across the country. He further claimed that equitable power distribution was being made in Punjab and other parts of the country.

Musadik Malik made it clear that the power generation could not increase beyond 14,000MW due to various constraints, adding that we should accept the fact that maximum power generation could be enhanced to 14,000MW except six weeks of summer.

The caretaker Water and Power minister also blamed the Ministry of Petroleum and Finance for not releasing funds and fuel for power sector. Though with reluctance, he also acknowledged that shortcoming in the revenue generation by power distribution companies was also a factor behind low power generation. He said Rs75 billion was annually being added into circular debt due to inefficient use of available power generation options while overall circular debt had been enhanced to Rs700 billion.

Petroleum Minister Sohail Wajahat warned that fuel supply chain for power production could be broken due to non-payment of dues. Once the chain was broken, he added, there would be an unbearable gap of one and half months in restoration of fuel supply. He said his ministry made possible availability of 150mmcfd gas for power sector for five weeks, which was a tremendous achievement. However, he expressed inability in further provision of fuel for power generation, citing severe financial constraints. You could not run anything without money and there was a limit in this regard, he said and adding outstanding dues of fuel were enormous. He said payables of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) alone stood at Rs60 billion.

Wajahat said an increase in gas tariff for each consumer category was inevitable. Cheap and scarce resource of natural gas was being rampantly and excessively used, he said and adding only way to judiciously use this energy source was to increase its price significantly. He said he would increase gas tariff in next few days, however, increase in gas tariff would be gradual.

The petroleum minister said that due to annual turnaround of Qadirpur Gas field, gas supply would be reduced for power sector. In order to supplement power supplies, he said, dedicated supply of gas for Guddu and Liberty Power should be used to augment power generation. Otherwise, he said, power generation could be affected adversely.

Courtesy: The News

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