• All eyes on imported gas to meet Pakistan’s energy requirements

    Despite extensive drilling by oil and gas E&P companies that resulted in over 90 new discoveries in just three years, the much-talked about IP, TAPI and LNG projects are considered the thirst-quenching streams for the energy starved nation. Now with the concerted efforts of the present government, the decades old projects-Iran-Pakistan (IP), Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipelines and import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) – are almost in practical phase. Last year has already seen LNG’s import, while work on TAPI began in December, 2015. Similarly, the IP project will hopefully commence this year after amendment in the gas sale-purchase agreement with Iran.

    Critics believe it or not, there is light at the end of the tunnel as setting sun of 2017 will see end to this crippling legacy of the previous years when energy shortages started to hit the country slowly and steadily. In Pakistan, the gas supply-demand gap has reached 4 Billion Cubic Feet per Day (BCFD) as total gas demand of the country is 8 BCFD against total supply of 4 BCFD. Needless to say, in winter, the demand rapidly increases.

    “The country has no option other than to import gas whether it is LNG or through IP and TAPI pipeline projects as its existing reserves are depleting and there is no major find since long,” Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources said while addressing a seminar titled “Transparency in public sector: An appraisal.” The present government, he said, was eyeing on imported gas besides accelerating local oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) activities to meet the ever-growing energy needs in the country.

    Commenting on IP project, official sources in the Ministry revealed that the government was in the process of negotiating amendments in the Gas Sale Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with Iran for early implementation of the much-delayed project, which was conceived in mid-1950s. “A draft amendment has been shared with Iran, and it has agreed to negotiate on it along with some other amendments in the GSPA, following which construction work on the pipeline is expected to commence soon in collaboration with China,” the sources aware of the project updates said.

    Sharing details of the project, the sources said Inter-Governmental Framework Declaration was signed between the two countries on May 24, 2009, while GSPA had been agreed on June 2009. Subsequently, Pakistan issued sovereign guarantee on May 28, 2010. The project consultant was appointed on April 11, 2011, while the design, feasibility, route survey and other formalities of the project were completed on September 8, 2012.

    The 56-inch diameter pipeline will start from South Pars gas field in Iran and end at Nawabshah, covering a distance of around 1,931 km with 1,150 km portion in Iran and 781 km in Pakistan. The 750 mmcfd gas flow in the IP pipeline is projected to help generate around 4, 000 MW electricity ALSO, along with creating job opportunities in backward areas of Balochistan and Sindh, the sources said. Commenting on TAPI project, the sources said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with other regional leaders performed the groundbreaking of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project in Turkmenistan in December last.

    The groundbreaking ceremony took place near the city of Mary in the southeastern part of the central Asian country, close to the giant Galkynysh gas field which is meant to provide gas for the 1,814-kilometre (1,127-mile) link. The $10 billion pipeline, from Turkmenistan via Herat, Kandhar, Chaman, Quetta and Dera Gazi Khan to Multan and onwards to India, is expected to be operational by 2019. A state-owned company of Turkmenistan is the consortium for the TAPI and overseeing coordination in the construction, financing, ownership and operation of the project.

    As per the agreement, it was prerequisite for Pakistan, India and Afghanistan to have five per cent shares each in the project. Turkmengaz, leader of the consortium, would have 51 per cent shares, with the rest marked for partner countries It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan is already working on laying a 42-inch diameter 700-kilometer gas pipeline from Gwadar to Nawabshah, and a 1122-kilometer north-south (Karchi-Lahore) gas pipeline that can be used for supply the both regassified LNG and imported gas under IP and TAPI.

    On LNG import, the official sources said this year Pakistan signed a 15 year agreement with Qatar to import up to 3.75 million tonnes of LNG a year, which was being highly appreciated by the business community as the previous governments had been reluctant to take any practical step in this regard. After arrival of LNG, industries, gas-based power units, CNG sector, fertilizer plants and especially domestic consumers started receiving uninterrupted supply, which is not less than of any miracle by any mean.

    A LNG-terminal is already operational at the Port Qasim, while two more each at Gwadar and Karachi are also being set up on priority basis to handle increased cargoes of the imported commodity for onward injection in the transmission network of gas companies – Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited. With the present government firmly resolved and making all-out efforts to bring these projects to maximum fruition, the sources expressed high hopes that gas shortfall problem would be solved to maximum extent within remaining period of the government. Dion Lewis Jersey

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