KARACHI: Karachiites are set to face longer hours of power cuts as the Sui Southern Gas Company on Sunday drastically cut gas supply to the Karachi Electric Supply Company for power generation, prompting the KESC to announce up to 16 hours of loadshedding in industrial areas, which had earlier been exempted from loadshedding.
The power utility alleged that the SSGC had diverted a significant quantity of gas to the Sui northern gas company to help overcome the current crisis in Punjab.
A spokesperson for the SSGC, however, denied that the company had diverted gas to the SNGPL.
The SSGC’s decision would have serious consequences for industrial and other power consumers in the economic hub of the country.
The KESC maintained that it had resisted the decline in gas supply but the gas company went ahead claiming that the step was imperative due to a severe reduction in supplies from the gasfields and an alarming decline in gas pressure.
A KESC spokesperson said that “for the time being” the power utility was not resorting to loadshedding for domestic and commercial consumers.
The SSGC did not say anything about the reduction of supplies to domestic and CNG consumers, but both were complaining of a marked cut in supplies and pressure.
The SSGC has reduced supplies to the KESC from 60mmcfd to 30mmcfd, said Zohair Siddiqui of the gas company. He said the gas company was facing a problem due to the reduction of about 140mmcfd supply of gas from the fields during the past three days.
He said this situation had caused a serious problem of line pack (low pressure of gas) together with an increase in domestic demand.
Replying to a question, Mr Siddiqui said the SSGC was getting a drastically reduced supply from Badin which used to provide around 230mmcfd of gas. After the BP sold its interests in the gasfield, a lack of proper care was causing problems, he said.
He denied that gas had been diverted to Punjab, but it was surprising that after the recent closure of gasfields for maintenance how this problem of low pressure, or the line pack, has developed suddenly. The SSGC was unable to give any timeframe for normal gas supply.
In the past when the KESC had faced reduction in gas supply for generation, it had demanded supply of oil at gas price, causing another crisis of circular debt.
The SSGC management regretted for the inconvenience caused to both the KESC and domestic consumers, but requested the public to save the precious fuel by keeping their geysers on ‘warm’ instead of ‘hot’ or ‘very hot’.
It promised that as soon as supplies were restored from the gasfields, normal gas load would be restored to the KESC.
Shabbir Sulemanji, chairman of the All Pakistan CNG Association, Sindh chapter, maintained that despite a stay order by the Sindh High Court against gas loadshedding by the SSGC, it was disappointing to notice that there was severe loadshedding and low pressure in various localities of the city.
In a statement the KESC said that on Sunday afternoon it suffered complete discontinuation of gas supply from the SSGC, causing a huge deficit in power generation which has totally been shifted to furnace oil now.
“All the generation plants cannot run on oil. Most of the units are gas fired. Therefore, the utility has been constrained to start loadshedding in industrial areas while it is trying to maintain the normal schedule of residential and commercial areas,” said the statement.
“The SSGC was already supplying curtailed quantity to KESC when the SSGC forced total stoppage of the supply despite KESC’s efforts. Due to that the KESC had no choice but to start loadshedding in the industrial areas for 16 hours during the day in each of four groups in rotation.
“It is worth mentioning here that for last 18 months Industrial areas are completely exempted from any loadshedding.
“KESC’s winter requirement is at least 140mmcfd but the utility had been sustaining operations at around 60mmcfd average for a long time. However, finally the gas supply has been totally stopped.”