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Print Print 2021-06-21

RLNG shortage may trigger power crisis

  • NPCC requested SNGPL/Petroleum Division to supply 900MMCFD RLNG in July 2021, but only one-third has been pledged
  • Confirmation not yet received for 300MMCFD either
Published June 21, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Another severe power crisis is looming across the country due to shortage of Re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG), furnace oil and water from June 29 to July 5, 2021, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

Though the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) has not approved a proposal on withdrawal of Engro's LNG terminal for dry-docking, the concerned organisation has not booked required cargoes of LNG for one week, forcing decision makers to spend sleepiness nights.

The National Power Control Centre (NPCC) had requested Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Company Limited (SNGPL)/ Petroleum Division to supply 900 MMCFD RLNG in July 2021. However, only 300 MMCFD RLNG has been pledged to be made available but still no confirmation has been made from the gas utility, which implies that even the supply of 300 MMCFD - one third of demand - is still not ensured.

The sources said stocks of furnace oil are also not sufficient as per requirement to run furnace-oil fired power plants. The sources said the country is expected to face shortfall of 3,000MW from June 29, to July 5, 2021, due to the fuel crisis, which implies massive load-shedding will be witnessed across the country.

The government has already faced severe criticism due to massive load shedding during the first week of the current month. National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) summoned top officials of Discos and K-Electric and grilled them for load shedding.

The government, sources said, may stop or curtail natural gas supply to the industry, fertiliser sector and CNG sector and divert it to the power sector, but final decision has not been taken in this regard.

On June 2, 2021, NPCC officials who attended Nepra hearing on FCA for April 2021 argued that LNG was not available for plants as per the agreed schedule due to which expensive plants were operated. They also claimed that SNGPL does not supply LNG at the time of peak demand. For June, SNGPL has not met LNG demand.

NPCC official proposed that the System Operator is ready to train the officials at their offices so that there should be no confusion on operations of plants. According to sources, on June 17, 2021 a meeting to discuss issue of increase in releases from Mangla and Tarbela to increase power generation was held in the Power Division, co-chaired by Secretary Power and Secretary Water Resources Division.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman Indus River System Authority (IRSA), and other concerned representatives. Secretary Power Division, Ali Raza Bhutta highlighted the importance of the issue and stated that to mitigate generation shortfall in the period June 29 to July 5, 2021, the releases from Mangla and Tarbela need to be increased.

Chairman IRSA, sources said, apprised the meeting that due to current storage, hydrology, inflows and outflows, additional discharge in both reservoirs is not possible till August 2021. He further stated that water in Mangla reservoir is stored for Rabi crop for Sindh and Punjab. Besides, inflow has also decreased because of low temperature in Skardu area, which ultimately will affect its outflow and generation.

"IRSA on its own cannot increase the releases to mitigate power shortfall during June 29 to July 5, 2021. Case for increase in releases may have to be presented before the CCI," the sources continued. An official told this scribe that both provinces have already refused to allow increase in releases during this period so it may not be possible for CCI to approve any such proposal.

This issue is expected to be discussed at a meeting of CCI on Monday (today) to be convened to finalise National Electricity Policy (NEP) which was deferred last week due to differences between the provinces and Power Division.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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