Moratorium on new gas connections lifted

WEB DESK: The government has lifted the moratorium on new gas connections in the country, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Thursday.

He said this while briefing National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources held under the chairmanship of Chaudhry Bilal Ahmed Virk.

He said that the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 04 May, 2016 accorded approval to the summery of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, seeking lifting of ban on gas connections.

The meeting was attended by Muhammad Arshad Khan Laghari, Malik Ihtebar Khan, Mian Tariq Mehmood, Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan, Rasheed Ahmad Khan, Khalid Javaid Warraich, Nawab Ali Wassan, Shehryar Afridi, Nasir Khan Khattak, Abdul Waseem, Sajid Ahmed, Shahjehan Muneer Mangrio, Secretary M/o P&NR and senior officers of the concerned departments.

It is pertinent to mention, that the government of Pakistan People’s Party had imposed a moratorium on new gas connections in 2011 because of serious gas deficit. When asked for the rationale behind the decision to lift ban on gas connections, the minister said that gas producing provinces were requesting for the removal of ban.

To a question about possible consequences of the government’s decision in this regard, he stated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan it will not have serious implications, but new gas connections in Punjab will face issues of low gas pressure next winter.

The Minister also directed the Managing Directors (MDs) of Sui-Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui-Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) to compel regional General Managers (GMs) of both the utilities to make better co-ordination with consumers and resolve their problems in regional offices.

He said that it was noticed that the Regional GMs were referring gas consumers to head offices as a result consumers were facing an extra financial burden and loss of time too.

The minister also directed the SSGCL and SNGPL authorities to ensure timely release of funds to the families of deceased company employees.The minister further said, for creating a competition among all the fuel stations Inland Freight Equalisation Margin (IFEM) should be deregulated.

The committee decided to summon Director General (Petroleum Concession) along with information requisite in its next meeting in exercise of Rule 227 (1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007.

The committee took this decision in view of failure of DG (PC) to submit the information required by the committee within stipulated time frame. The committee members expressed displeasure on the grant of permission to sell LPG to the CNG stations by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) which defaulted on account of gas bills. The committee also decided to summon the Chairman OGRA in its next meeting to discuss this issue.

The members of the committee pointed out that the gas companies were not providing gas within five kilometers to areas where it was being produced. The minister informed that the SNGPL and SSGCL do not have sufficient funds to provide gas to these areas and suggested that the MNA from respective constituencies should provide development funds or the provincial governments should contribute in order to provide gas to the said areas.

The committee directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to review its decision of making supplies of POL to dealers during last week of the month on the basis of their three-week average upliftment.

The committee was of the view that the sale of POL in rural areas was directly linked with the demand during sowing and harvesting seasons, therefore, fixing quota for rural based dealers would result in drying out of petrol stations/retail outlets causing problems for the farmers.- Business Recorder