Friday Jul 02, 2021
ISLAMABAD: PML-N and the government were at loggerheads again on Friday over the country's energy crisis, with former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi criticising the import of liquefied natural gas and Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar defending the use of regasified liquid natural gas.
Azhar, addressing a press conference at the Press Information Department (PID) following one by the PML-N, said that the country is sorely in need of regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) as the natural gas reserves of Pakistan are near depletion.
He assured everyone that the supply of electricity and gas will be restored in the country from Monday.
“There will be further improvement in the next two to three days. Restoration of gas will restore electricity,” he said.
The minister said that water levels were rising at the Tarbela dam due to increasing temperatures which means the dam will be equipped to generate more electricity in the coming days. He added that three days ago, the government restored the generation of gas from the Sui Southern gas field.
The energy minister also stated that the government has restored 40% of LNG ahead of schedule, adding that the government will complete 70% of the storage of RLNG by Saturday.
To explain the country’s electricity woes, Azhar said that sometimes the supply and demand of electricity is at equilibrium. He said that right now, however, the demand is high due to industries running at full throttle.
The minister also hit back at the PML-N, saying that RLNG is a requirement for the country as gas reserves are depleting. He also clarified that the PTI government does not say that LNG is not a need.
Azhar vowed that the PTI government will install the LNG terminal at a better cost compared to the PML-N government.
In addition, the minister said that work on the North-South gas pipeline, a project approximately valued at Rs500 billion is due to start.
Earlier in the morning, Azhar had given an update on the "dry docking of RLNG terminal".
The minister said that the change over of ships was completed "on time on Wednesday".
"40% regasifaction of RLNG from the replacement ship has been achieved two days ahead of schedule. We are targeting 70% restoration of RLNG supply by tomorrow," the minister had said.
Meanwhile, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi slammed the PTI government over the purchase of LNG for power generation, claiming that the incumbent government was buying the natural resource at an expensive rate due to their "incompetence".
The former prime minister, while addressing a press conference alongside other PML-N leaders, alleged that the federal ministers have been lying about the country’s electricity woes.
“Ministers have been lying constantly. Why are plants closed and why is expensive electricity being made?” asked Abbasi.
The PML-N leader said that a government minister had accused the previous government of running expensive plants "but today those same plants are open and the cheap ones have been shut down".
The former PM also attacked the PTI-led government for its import of furnace oil due to power shortages.
He reminded the journalists present for the press conference that the current government had banned the import of furnace oil.
“In 2018, the cabinet had decided that furnace oil will not be imported. Today after creating an LNG shortage, furnace oil is being imported,” said the former premier.
Abbasi also claimed that the PTI government had “no planning for LNG” and that was the main reason behind the import of furnace oil. He also alleged that some people in the present government were taking Rs1 billion commission on “each furnace oil ship” coming into the country.
“We all know how these people are making money, who is taking the money,” said Abbasi without taking any names. He added that the current government was buying furnace oil 20% higher than the market rate.
The PML-N leader further attacked the incumbent government for changes at the Ministry of Energy. He claimed that when a new minister comes, a new story emerges on the problems being faced by the energy sector.
Abbasi said that a minister claimed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif created surplus electricity in the country. He also said that another minister, who was removed, claimed that transmission issues being faced by the energy sector were not “rectified” in the past government's tenure.
“There is no problem of transmission. They are brazenly lying. They are incompetent,” said Abbasi.
The former prime minister demanded that the present government explain to the people the causes behind electricity loadshedding.
“Tell the people why electricity loadshedding is being done," he said.
"Ministers do not know which plants run on furnace oil and which ones run on LNG,” Abbasi added.
Abbasi, who was the minister for petroleum and natural resources during the Nawaz Sharif government, also challenged the PTI to register a case against him if he had purchased expensive LNG.