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Cabinet set to approve contract

The Cabinet in the upcoming meeting is to approve the contract of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal construction to be used for imported LNG, Abid Saeed, Federal Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has said. While briefing the Senate Standing committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources here on Monday with Senator Mohammad Yousaf in the chair, Abid said that the cabinet would take up the issue of the import of LNG from Qatar in its upcoming meeting, adding that the government of Pakistan as yet had not negotiated the LNG prices with Qatar.

However, he said that in 2012, Pakistan and Qatar governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on LNG import, but in practical nothing had been done as yet. Pakistan and Qatar had yet not initiated talks on the pricing of LNG, but were keeping in view the current LNG prices in the international market as per experts' estimates it would be in the range of $16-17 per Million British Thermal Unit (MMBTU), he said.

Arif Hameed, Managing Director (MD) Sui-Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), while briefing the meeting informed that during past one year, Unaccounted for Gas (UfG) level had been reduced to 10 per cent from 12 per cent on the SNGPL network and the company had recovered Rs 3 billion from defaulters.

The committee was informed that gas theft of Rs 900 million was detected in an industrial unit namely Tariq Aziz Peppermills situated in Lahore, the factory had been closed, while the owner of the unit approached the court against the SNGPL's decision. When the committee was informed by the MD SNGPL that he had yet not visited the industrial unit, involved in huge gas theft, Senator, Abdul Nabi Bangash stated that gas theft in industrial sector was impossible without the involvement of the company officials and the government should take appropriate action against such officials.

Hameed informed the meeting that in past one year the management of the SNGPL had detected total gas theft to the tune of Rs 12 billion of which Rs 3 billion had been recovered, while cases pertaining to others were in the courts. Abid Saeed, Secretary Petroleum and Natural Resources further briefing the committee said that the government had decided to establish Gas Utility Tribunals (GUTs) in four provincial capitals to check the gas theft and punish gas thieves.

The committee was informed that the government had already approved the establishment of the GUTs in Lahore and Peshawar, while the establishment of GUTs in Karachi and Quetta would soon be approved. "The informer of the gas theft will get 5 per cent of the fined amount as a reward besides special award. The majority of the consumers involved in gas theft are domestic consumers, while industrial and commercial consumers are also involved in gas theft, Abid stated.

Chairman Committee Senator Mohammad Yousaf asked the Petroleum Ministry officials how much liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) was being imported. The Petroleum Ministry officials stated that per day import of LPG in the country was around 200 to 300 tons. Senator Yousaf informed the participants that as much as 1,200 tons of liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) per day was being offloaded in Taftan border area with Iran and the importers were paying Rs 15,000 per ton custom duty. He asked the officials about the status of imported LPG from Iran and directed the Petroleum Ministry officials to come up with exact facts and figures in the next meeting as where such huge quantity of commodity was being consumed, while the state was unaware of the situation. The committee disposed of two main agenda items including excessive billing by the SNGPL due to the retirement of Senator Najma Hameed and "$1 billion LNG scam" as no quantity of the commodity have yet been imported by the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2014


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