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Opinion

Managing a company in a crisis situation

‘The secret of crisis management is not good v bad, it’s preventing the bad from getting worse.’
09 Jul 2021

In the last week of June, Kunnar-Pasakhi Deep (KPD) gas field owned by one of the upstream exploration and production companies (E&P) went on an annual turn around (ATA). The KPD gas field provides SSGC with 177mmcfd gas which in percent terms constitute around 20% of the over supplies to the utility.

The company suddenly faced a major shortfall. The ATA saw gas supplies sliding to 1,060mmcfd. We suddenly found ourselves in a very trying position. And for this situation to arise when the company fulfils the customers’ demand for gas much more comfortably than in winters placed us in a much more difficult predicament.

The shortfall of 177mmcfd gas meant that the company had to resort to the government of Pakistan’s Gas Load Management Plan. In order to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to domestic and commercial customers, the company started implementing the plan whereby CNG stations had to be closed for a week and captive power units of general industries were requested to slash gas consumption by 50% and non-export industries were urged to cut down consumption by 100%.

It is apt to mention here that throughout this episode, while the company took efforts to manage gas load with a view to providing uninterrupted gas supply to domestic, commercial, export-oriented units and IPPs. The company had to ensure that its line pack remains robust more so since it was also providing K-Electric with 150mmcfd gas which was all the more important for the people of Karachi to save themselves from power outages in this blistering summer heat.

We were told that KPD’s ATA planned would end in 21 days. SSGC did not sit on the issue and waited for the ATA to be completed. That would have been disastrous for the company and a major source of inconvenience for its customers in the form of depleted gas supply. It was important for company to emerge victorious from the crisis. And for that to happen, it was necessary to take some quick and bold measures. The company started out by taking all its customers on board because without taking the stakeholders into confidence it would not have been easy to avert a crisis situation. Having said that, the level of cooperation displayed by every stakeholder to augment gas supplies was exemplary and helped to ensure a positive outcome.

While we were channelizing all our energies in overcoming issues arising from KPD’s ATA, the issue of Engro LNG Terminal’s dry docking surfaced that threatened to further worsen the gas supply situation. Almost on an instinct, SSGC proactively took up the issue of dry docking as a major task to ensure an early resolution. The company played a key role in overcoming the supply situation on this front through regular consultation and correspondence with the LNG Terminal operators (EETPL) and the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division).

To avert the gas crunch, we took a number of timely measures. For one, after detailed discussions with the concerned stakeholders, we signed a short-term MoU with Karachi’s trade associations. The MoU entailed agreement to a full-pressure supply of gas in all 7 industrial zones for 7 days a week, in exchange for the zones agreeing to not consume gas for one day of the week. That help us strengthen our line pack situation.

We also requested the existing gas fields to ramp up their gas volumes to have sufficient gas available for the customers for bridging the gap. And we successfully urged upstream companies to inject reasonable gas flows into our system so as to maintain a workable line pack. Remember that our first priority remained our nearly 3 million domestic customers followed by commercial and export oriented sectors so that their outputs and orders do not get disturbed.

On the thorny issue of dry docking, persistent efforts from SSGC with full proactive support from the Ministry of Energy helped to regasify RLNG volumes from the replacement Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU), well ahead of schedule.

By the 2nd of July, KPD was back online and started providing 100mmcfd from the allocated volume as situation started normalizing. The upshot of the measures taken by SSGC was that normal supplies to the industries including their captive power units was restored on the 4th of July followed by opening of CNG stations the next day. By the 5th of July, KPD had once again started providing us with the full 177mmcfd volume. In addition, supply of RLNG has now been 100% restored that is also effectively ending forced power load shedding in many regions.

While the gas shortfall episode continued, the company kept the general public continuously updated about gas supply situation through regular media interviews and social media alerts and updates. The Customer Relations Department worked over time to fulfil customer complaints received through 1199 Call Centre and social media platforms. A true test of any organization is how effectively it handles a crisis situation. We held our poise, we communicated with our customers and we looked for solutions. And in doing so, we created a win-win situation for all.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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