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KARACHI: The industrial community has expressed serious concern over non-availability of gas in Karachi and termed it disastrous for export industries. It urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to resolve the situation.

Businessmen Group (BMG) Chairman Zubair Motiwala and Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) President M Shariq Vohra, strongly criticizing Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) for announcing suspension of gas supply to industries, appealed Prime Minister Imran Khan to order SSGC to refrain from suspending gas supply and also order a probe into the massive gas mismanagement as the industries in Karachi, which were already going through unbearable circumstances, cannot afford any interruption in their production activities due to suspension of gas supplies.

They said that if SSGC as per its claim was facing gas shortfall of 200-250 mmcfd from Kunnar-Pasakhi Deep (KPD) gas field and Engro Terminal, this shortfall could have been surmounted through RLNG for the time being but instead of doing so, they announced abrupt suspension of gas supplies to industries which was totally unacceptable as it would prove disastrous not only for the business community but also for economy and the public.

“The business community has always been kept in the dark about supply of RLNG which is highly unfair. We need to know what is the quantum of RLNG retained by SSGC and what is the sale volume of RLNG to consumers in Sindh and Balochistan as we apprehend that the factual position is that they are selling more quantum of RLNG than what they are purchasing therefore, we feel that this shortage can also be minimized if the quantum of RLNG which is being purchased by SSGC should be more than what they are selling and not the other way around.

They said that as far as our knowledge is concerned around 150-200 mmcfd RLNG was being supplied to industries and we have also been told that SSGC has been restrained from retaining RLNG and there are orders that the entire volume of RLNG of 1200 mmcfd should be given to SNGPL. “What will happen to these industries in Karachi to whom supply of 200 mmcfd RLNG (including KE) was committed. It’s a double jeopardy as in addition to supplying gas from Sindh’s indigenous resources, RLNG is also being handed over to SNGPL. In such problematic circumstances when KPD Gas field and Engro Terminal were simultaneously going on a turnaround, what is going to happen to industries in Karachi”, he asked, adding that this turnaround could have been scheduled during the forthcoming holidays of Eid-ul-Azha.

Chairman BMG said that it appears to be like a conspiracy against Karachi as after every 15 days, the industries are tangled in this kind of situation that intensifies the sufferings for industries in Karachi.

The turnaround of KPD Gas field and Engro Terminal could also have been delayed and they should do it one by one. Moreover, as KE also has the capacity to use furnace oil for power generation, the gas supply being given to KE should be curtailed and transferred to industries and KE may use furnace oil until the crises are over, he suggested.

He said that the decision to suspend gas supply would affect the performance of general industries which are an important part of the supply chain of export-oriented industries; hence the general industries in one way or the other participate in the export activities. Consequently, it will also have very devastating trickledown effect on the trading, wholesale and retail networks which will ultimately create negative signals and uncertainty.

President KCCI Shariq Vohra stated that the suspension of gas supply to industries of Karachi would cause layoffs, financial losses to industries and revenue losses to national exchequer.

He was of the opinion that the ongoing gas crises in Karachi have become a very serious issue that needs to be probed because at a time when the industrial activities were gradually returning to normalcy, some elements in the system abruptly intervened and created gas shortage which is going to result in closure of many factories. Here it would be worth mentioning that similar kind of situation was created when they disconnected 225 industries in Karachi in the name of replacing it with the power supply.

He feared that if the gas crises go on like this, it would become difficult for industries to ensure smooth supply of goods for the local markets as well as for the export industries and the shortages would trigger inflation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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