There was no relief on Thursday from electricity load shedding in Lahore and other limits of LESCO.
The duration of load shedding on Thursday rose to seven to eight hours, with many areas even facing nine to 10 hours of blackouts. Sources in different power distribution companies said the Discos in Punjab, Sindh, KP and Balochistan were forced to conduct eight to 10 hours of average load shedding due to fuel supply constraints. The national grid, according to an official, was facing over a 9,000MW shortfall and dozens of power plants were out of the system.
The demand for electricity is crossing 24,000MW against the overall generation of less than 15,000MW, said an official of the Power Ministry, seeking anonymity. The ministry has stopped sharing daily generation and distribution data with journalists, a practice that continued during the PPP and PML-N tenures.
Sources said that only those feeders which were under the media radar were facing fewer outages but the rural areas and small cities are in the grip of even 10 to 12 hours of load shedding. The consumers at the feeders where line losses are high were also facing heavy load shedding. Meanwhile, the IPPs are demanding the clearance of dues of billions of rupees from the government, one of the major reasons behind the widening gap between demand and supply.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Masood Malik on Thursday said the government, being cognizant of the growing energy needs of consumers in the sweltering months of May and June, has completed the procurement of seven additional cargoes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). “We have purchased four additional cargoes for May and three for June, besides the normal procurement of LNG as per 1,200 MMCFD consumption for the two months. It means all the required LNG has been acquired,” the minister said while addressing a news conference here along with Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir Khan.
He said the additional LNG had been purchased at an exorbitant rate because Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government did not buy it when it was available at $4-5 per MMBTU (Million British Thermal Unit). Now it is selling at $22-25 per MMBT, he added. Highlighting the incompetency of the past regime, Musadik said the PTI government procured 260 MMCFD (million cubic feet per day) of gas against the demand of 400 MMCFD in November last, 250-55 MMCFD against the need for 475 MMCFD in December, 134 MMCFD against the demand of 510 MMCFD in January and only 270 MMCFD against the requirement of 350 MMCFD in February.
“Why did they [PTI government] not purchase the required LNG? No one has the answer to this,” he said. The minister said the PTI laid a landmine before quitting the government by reducing oil and diesel price by Rs10 litre each till June, as it was done without allocating any budget and approval by the Federal Cabinet or the Economic Coordination Committee.
“Rs700-800 billion budget was needed for the fuel subsidy, while the affairs of the whole federal government take Rs520 billion.”