Gas supply to any industry will not be disconnected unless they have electricity connection to meet their requirement, announced Sindh Governor Imran Ismail.

During a comprehensive session with industrialists and Power Division officials on Friday, the governor said that industrial development was one of the top priorities of Prime Minister Imran Khan and in this regard the federal government would extend all possible assistance for industrial growth and boosting the country’s exports.

During the meeting, the industrialists expressed concern over the recent announcement of the federal government about discontinuing gas supply to the captive power plants of industrial units.

They said that foreign buyers from across the globe had become sceptical and approached exporters in Pakistan, inquiring about delivery of goods to them in the wake of government’s announcement.

The delegation of industrialists told government officials that the announcement had created uncertainty among EU and US buyers.

Government officials responded that they never intended to close down any industrial unit and such action would be taken only when industrial units were provided with an alternative energy solution as per their requirement.

In case of any shortfall and variance in availability of electricity and power consumption of the industry concerned, whether manufacturer or exporter, gas supply would not be disconnected and would continue till the time a policy framework was chalked out, they said.

Special Assistant to PM on Power Tabish Gauhar, who was present in the meeting, said that Pakistan had overcapacity in terms of power generation, and circular debt was a basic economy issue.

Furthermore, he said, the government had announced an electricity tariff support package whereby all industries would be provided electricity at a discounted rate on incremental consumption for the next three years.

He emphasised that the government was bringing improvement to the power sector through bold policy decisions.

Gauhar said that power distribution companies would expeditiously process requests for new connections and load enhancement for industries and ensure better quality of supply.

Special Assistant to PM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar said that the decision was based on the fact that the consumption of scarce natural gas in inefficient captive power plants was a big national loss.

“On the other hand, the surplus power generation capacity can be absorbed in these industrial units at competitive rates and with reliable supplies.”

He told meeting participants that the issue of gas supply to captive power plants had been under discussion for the last 10 years and pointed out that the allocation management policy 2005 clearly stated that gas supply to captive power plants would be made on “as and when available” basis after meeting the requirement of other consumers.

He said that the new policy even exempted the captive units with cogeneration facility since they had much higher combined efficiency.

Babar assured businessmen that the industrial units, which were not currently connected to the power grid or had power connection sufficient for their needs, would not be disconnected immediately.

He said that the government would request them to shift from gas-based captive power generation to the national power grid by December this year.

The industrialists also discussed the increase in gas prices from Rs786 to Rs930 per unit, which was confirmed.

Responding to that, Babar said that re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) would be provided to industries in February for which the industries were already paying the enhanced tariff of Rs930 per mmbtu. He highlighted that the gas supply situation in the current year was better as compared to previous years.

However, the industrialists disagreed, saying there were several industrial interruptions, low pressure and weekly gas closure for 24 hours many times.

He instructed the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) MD to issue a press release, clarifying that there would be no abrupt industrial gas disconnection so that the perception of international buyers could be appropriately rectified and that gas would be provided continuously to the industries.