ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to PM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar has said that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is misleading the nation on the gas issue. The federal government is not doing any injustice to the people of Sindh.

In a joint press conference with Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz, Nadeem Babar said that Sindh chief minister in a letter to the prime minister didn’t mention gas production statistics correctly. He said Murad Ali Shah claimed that Sindh is producing 2,500 to 2,600 MMCFD of gas whereas according to Ministry of Petroleum record Sindh producing 2000 to 2020 MMCFD of gas. He said Sindh CM claimed that Sindh is consuming only 900-1000 MMCFD of gas; however, Sindh uses 1562 MMCFD of gas in reality. He said that Sindh government says that gas being provided to fertiliser and power plants is the federal government’s responsibility, making no sense. “The majority of agreements to provide gas to these sectors either signed either during President Gen Pervez Musharraf or during PPP tenures and now how can they say that its federal subject,” he observed. Nadeem Babar said if their ministry minus 150 MMCFD of LNG from the gas is provided to SSGC, Sindh provides 100MMCFD of gas to the rest of the country. 

Referring to Sindh chief minister emphasis on Article 158 of the Constitution, that said “the province in which a well-head is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from that well-head,” he said that whatever discovery found in Sindh is automatically connected to Sui Southern Gas Company. He said unfortunately because of no discoveries the gas in recent past the reserves depleting by 5 to 7% per annum. He said the uniform rate of gas could not be changed for any province. He said the federal government kept the uniform tariff of electricity for the whole country even though the Punjab distribution companies incur fewer line losses than Discos of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

He dispelled the impression that there will be a gas shortage in January because the Petroleum Division didn’t place orders to import LNG on time. “We didn’t have enough storage capacity, and that’s why we have to buy LNG cargoes on spot rates. There are only two months of December and January in which demand for gas increase sharply but for this, we can’t pay capacity charges to any LNG terminal for the whole year,” he remarked. He pointed out that only the CNG sector and captive power plants will face a gas shortage. However, issues of gas pressure can arise if the temperature drops further. 

Nadeem Babar said because of delay in permission by Sindh government the 17 km long gas pipeline completed now and become operational on December 26. If they got the permission bit earlier, they would develop a storage capacity 100MMCFD of gas. Next month, he said, private companies would start to build an LNG terminal, but unlike past agreements, the government will not pay any capacity charges. They find their customers themselves, he added.

Hamza Habib is a senior journalist and former editor of who has previously worked for leading newspapers and TV networks of the country. He mainly writes on the economy and political issues.


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