KARACHI: Pakistani industrialists in the southern port city of Karachi complained of disruptions in their production activities on Tuesday, pointing out that low pressure of gas and frequent fluctuations had made it impossible for them to deliver export orders on time.
The prevailing shortage of natural gas in Karachi, the country’s industrial and commercial capital, has been caused by the annual maintenance of a gas field that is currently carried out by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).
“Under our load management plan, we are supplying gas to domestic consumers on a priority basis,” the SSGC spokesperson Shahbaz Islam told Arab News.
He said the SSGC was facing a gas shortage of about 200 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd).
Under the utility company’s load management plan, supply has been suspended to fuel stations selling compressed natural gas (CNG) across the southern Sindh province until June 29.
“Some 613 CNG stations across Sindh, which only consume about 32 mmcfd of gas, have been shut down,” Samir Najmul Hasan, coordinator of the All Pakistan CNG Association for Sindh, said.
“This is happening due to the policies of the federal government since it should have made arrangements before initiating the maintenance activity at the gas field,” he said. “The frequent suspension of gas has already reduced our sales to 30 percent.”
According to SSGC officials, the company has not stopped supplying gas to industrial units, though factory owners say they have to deal with low gas pressure and frequent outages during the day.
“It takes us hours to heat up boilers due to low gas pressure these days,” Abdul Hadi, president of the SITE Association of Industry, told Arab News. “Then there are frequent fluctuations that delay our production activities by about three to four hours a day.”
He maintained that the current situation was making it difficult for manufacturers to process export orders properly.
“If we fail to execute these orders on time, foreign buyers will move away from us and go to other manufacturers,” he added. “If the government cannot provide us such basic facilities, we should probably relocate our industries somewhere else for survival.”
Some industrialists warned if such a situation was allowed to persist, it would have a negative impact on the country’s exports which were going to fall from $22.5 billion to about $17 billion.
“Karachi’s share in Pakistan’s overall export is about 58 percent,” Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Businessmen Group at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News. “It is up to the government to think how it is putting the country’s huge industrial exports from Karachi at stake.”
The SSGC spokesperson, however, hoped the situation would normalize after July 4 when the supply of gas would be restored from the field.
In a separate development, Sui Southern Gas Company Limited on Tuesday cut 100 percent supply of gas to non-export industries and 50 percent to captive power plants to ensure supply of gas to domestic consumers, according to notifications issued by the utility following the suspension of output from Kunnar Pasakhi gas field.
Pakistan gas production has declined by 4.3 percent or 3.3 billion cubic feet per day during June 9 to 15 as compared to 3.5 bmcfd from June 2 to 8, 2021, according to Arif Habib Research.