Pakistan's gas transmission system 'at risk' due to line pack pressure

Official says pipeline could burst anytime due to increased vulnerability caused by reduction in RLNG use

Khalid Mustafa
Pakistans gas transmission system at risk due to line pack pressure
A representational image of flames of a lit gas stove. — AFP/File
  • Local E&P companies slash their gas flows putting gas fields at risk.
  • Power sector slashes RLNS use increasing line pack pressure.
  • Senior official says "pipeline could burst anytime".

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's gas transmission and distribution system is at risk due to increasing line pack pressure which has surged to a dangerous level of 5.13 billion cubic feet (bcf) after May 5, The News reported on Monday.

The pressure in the gas transmission system remained at a manageable level of 4.570-4.97bcf between May 5 and May 25 but has now soared to critical levels owing to the reduction in the use of Re-Gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) by the power sector, a senior official told the publication.

"Now, the gas system has come again under duress on May 25-26 mainly because of reduction in the use of RLNG by the power sector," the official said, adding that the pipeline could burst any time as the gas transmission system becomes more vulnerable if the gas pressure surges past 5bcf-mark.

The official's remark come as line pack pressure stood at 5.13bcf on Sunday as opposed to Saturday's 5.17bcf. The local Exploration and Production (E&P) companies have reduced gas flows by 176mmcf from 783 to 605mmcf, which is dangerous for the operation of gas fields.

The power sector has slashed its RLNG use to 475mmcf as fuel for electricity generation owing to which the line pack pressure has increased to 1.530bcf, putting the gas transmission system under duress.

Meanwhile, gas consumption in the fertiliser industry stands at 52 mmcf as compared to Saturday’s consumption of 40mmcf with low RLNG consumption (24mmcf) by Fatima Fertiliser due to start up of their plant at 1900 hrs on May 24 after completion of their Annual Turn Around (ATA).

Furthermore, system gas consumption by Engro Fertilizer was suspended at 2200 hrs on April 22 due to start up of Annual Turn Around of their plant for about 54 days

With the current RLNG consumption rate standing at 32 mmcfd, the data warns extreme high-pressure condition prevails throughout the transmission network due to reduced offtake of RLNG by the power sector.

Commenting on the steps taken to tackle the situation, he said that authorities have started reducing gas flows from local gas fields into the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) system to reduce the line pack pressure.

However, the official noted that reduction in gas flow from local gas fields poses significant risks to maintaining the current local gas production level.

Recalling the repeated warnings by exploration and production companies against the "perilous" practice of decreasing local gas flows to safeguard the gas transmission system, he said that gas wells nearing depletion are compelled to reduce natural gas flows, causing irreparable damage, and they cannot recharge to their original flow levels.

The wells require capital-intensive investment through artificial lift methods to resume production, he concluded.