Gas load shedding inevitable despite extra LNG in January: Musadik Malik

Musadik Malik, the Minister of State for Petroleum, on Monday warned that gas load shedding is inevitable in the coming months despite the arrangement of additional 200 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) liquefied natural gas (LNG) in January-February 2023, compared to the same period last year.

“Despite the availability of an extra LNG cargo during the upcoming peak winter season, gas load-shedding will be inevitable,” Malik said while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum in a meeting held under the chair of committee chairman Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir.

“In January, Pakistan will have ten LNG cargoes, while in February nine of them will be available for local consumption, while this extra liquefied gas will be imported by state-run companies.” Malik said the government would encourage the private sector to invest in new LNG terminals. The state petroleum minister was critical of the supply of gas to the fertiliser-makers at discounted rates. “The gas costing Rs4,000/MMBTU was being supplied to the fertiliser factories for just Rs250/MMBTU under the pressure of the fertiliser mafia,” the minister said.

A poor common consumer pays $17/MMBTU, while the exporting sector gets the same gas for $9/MMBTU; however, it is provided to the fertiliser-makers at a meagre $1.35-3/MMBTU. “It is true exports are also important, the gas sector circular debt has ballooned to Rs1,500 billion,” he said adding, “We have to strike a balance between gas prices. We did not buy gas when it was available at $2-2.5/MMBTU. Now it has reached $40/MMBTU.” Malik also informed the meeting that the country was also planning to import 20,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for winter months.

Speaking on the occasion, PTI’s Senator Saifullah Abro said foreign investment in the gas sector would be highly welcome. “However, we need to be careful lest these investing companies should trap the country into paying them capacity payments like some independent power producers (IPPs),” Senator Abro said. During the meeting, Abro and Malik traded barbs over mismanagement in the buying of LNG.

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