No respite from Sui Southern Gas Company leads to load shed at Karachi Water and Sewerage Board installations: Karachi Electric Supply Company

Karachi: The non-consideration of multiple requests and lack of support from SSGC to improve the gas supply to the sole power supplying utility of Karachi, KESC; has exacerbated the power crisis. With no signs of improvement in the gas supply from the current abysmal levels of 115-120mmcfd and 80MW of additional power supply shortage due to the shutdown of KANNUP, while the power demand of the city still being around 2200MW, has left KESC with no choice but to widen the load shedding ambit to the previously exempted KWSB installations. KWSB will now have a load shedding spell of 4 hrs daily, implementable from 6:00pm November 24th.

KWSB despite being the #1 defaulter of KESC, owing power bills to the tune of Rs. 15.3 Billion, had been enjoying load shedding exemption and had always been serviced on a priority basis and never subjected to load shedding even in the worst of power crisis.

KWSB’s payments and dues are backed by the federal government by virtue of a sovereign guarantee, which makes all such outstanding dues to be payable by the federal government in case of default by KWSB. KESC has requested the Ministry of Finance a number of times to directly pay off the Rs. 15.3 Bn power dues owed to it by KWSB to SSGC but to no avail.

The primary issue of the current power crisis in the city is being fuelled by the mismanagement of natural resources by SSGC. If SSGC even today adheres to the ‘Gas Allocation Policy’ in letter and spirit, the current crisis could be overcome to a large extent. Instead of giving priority to its largest purchaser, who also pays the highest per unit rate (KESC), SSGC chooses to keep KESC on the lowest rung of its supply preference.

This can be witnessed from the fact, that even in the current gas supply crisis, it is only KESC that has been subjected to supply curtailment despite being a public utility, while the industrial sector and even captive power plants, have merely been asked to voluntarily reduce their gas consumption at best.

In order to seriously address the looming power crisis, the government should as a first measure ensure implementation of the gas allocation policy for the Captive Power Producers. Speaking specifically of the captive power producers, it is quite ironic that the most amount of noise is being made from those quarters of the industrialists, who are the least affected by the load shedding! These are those entities who are using gas to generate in-house cheap electricity for their own consumption (captive power generation), and in other words they use the power supplied by KESC only as a standby.

It is this same section of the industry, which is the most fearful because even they know that, KESC as a public service utility, should be on the top priority in terms of gas allocation because it services not only the 20 million residents of Karachi, but also power the commercial and industrial sector – yet a certain segment of the industries continue to receive gas on a priority level for self-generation, which in its entirety is not quite in line with the governments own gas allocation policy for ‘captive power generation’, which clearly states, Quote: Section 3.1.6 of the Natural Gas Allocation and Management Policy – 2005 that: “Gas Supply to All Consumers in the Captive Power Sector Will Be Made After First Meeting the Requirement of Domestic, Fertilizer, Commercial, Industrial, and Power (both WAPDA / KESC and IPP’s) Sectors”.

KESC hopes that the government will direct SSGC to increase the gas supply to the utility and relieve the misery of the 20 million residents of the city from the current power crisis which now has spilled over to a possible water shortage as well.

For more information, contact:
Adil Murtaza
Assistant Manager, Media and PR
Karachi Electric Supply Company Limited (KESC)
2nd Floor, State Life Building No 11, Abdullah Haroon Road, Saddar, Karachi
Tel: +9221 9920 7163
Cell: +92346 822 3641