Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.

DR ASIM Hussain, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources, a visionary with a profound sense of service has set new standards to eliminate the whole gas sector. He has forwarded a summary to Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to close down both the distribution companies on account of huge gas losses and theft in gas sector along with CNG stations which has completed 15 years.

While analyzing the move it seems that the Minister has strong motives to obliterate the gas sector before completion of the five-year constitutional tenure of the present government with just few days left. Pakistan is going through what many describe as existential crisis. And almost everyone agrees that the most fundamental and significant reason underlying this crisis is the inequities and injustices that have been prevalent in the state of Pakistan. The situation demands a collective effort on the part of all stakeholders of society, including government. But the solution is not to wrap up one of the largest gas networks in the world.

No doubt, that Gas theft is on the rise in security affected areas, as it surged to 380 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) that is 200 mmcfd from Sui-Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) and 180 mmcfd from Sui-Southern Gas Company (SSGC) systems. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources announced that gas is being illegally utilized by all consumers including industrial, commercial and domestic. Gas pipelines in Pakistan suffer from theft of nearly 380 mmcfd on average, of about 12.5 percent of total production. Rise in unaccounted for gas (UFG) means difference between total volume of gas purchased by the companies and volume of metered gas supplied to consumers. UFG levels of Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) have remained abnormally high of over 10 per cent last fiscal year. These losses reflect gas companies performance.

Under OGRA ordinance 2002, the government had entrusted the OGRA to remove difficulties in the transitional period and to determine revenue requirements of both gas companies. SSGCL brought the Natural Gas Efficiency Project (NGEP) in revenue requirement with projected expenditure of Rs 3.57 billion in FY 2012-13 (Rs 30 billion spread over 5 years). The company will be able to increase rehabilitation of deteriorating pipelines from present 500 km/yr to over 1350 km in FY 2012-13. World Bank agreed to provide retroactive financing upto US$ 20 million on project expenditure incurred after 1st November 2011. SNGPL has also submitted their 3 years plan for UFG control at an estimated cost of Rs 5,856 million. After implementation of plan it is expected that almost 16,502 mmcf gas will be saved.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a substitute for gasoline (petrol) or diesel fuel. It is considered to be an environmentally “Clean” alternative to those fuels. It is made by compressing methane (CH4) extracted from natural gas. The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) sector of Pakistan by end of 2009 has attracted over Rs 90 billion investments during the last few years as a result of liberal and encouraging policies of the government.

Presently, around 3,105 CNG stations are operating in the country in 85 cities and towns. It has provided employment to above 30,000 people in Pakistan. Over 3 million vehicles were converted to CNG as of end 2009, showing an increase of 35 percent yearly. All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) confirms that CNG stakeholders have invested Rs.90 billion in this sector and another Rs 20 billion investment is in pipeline. The summary moved by the petroleum ministry to the ECC to close down CNG outlets is a conspiracy to deprive the people of economical fuel, plunge millions into unemployment, and waste huge investments into drain. Just remember, “theres a right way and a wrong way to do everything and the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way”.

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