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Domestic consumers exempted from gas load-shedding

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ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari called for taking innovative steps to meet the power shortage on a long term basis as was done by the PPP government in mid 90s. A meeting on the Energy situation held in the Presidency on Friday ruled out gas load-shedding for domestic consumer in the country to meet power shortage and decided on a number of short term and long term measures to meet the short fall in electricity.

The meeting presided over jointly by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was attended by Ms Sherry Rehman, Minister for Information, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Minister for Water and Power, Mr. Shaukat Tarin, Advisor on Finance and Dr. Asim Hussain, Advisor to PM on Petroleum and representative of WAPDA, public sector corporations related to oil and gas, IRSA and KESC besides others.

The meeting was held in the light of the President’s directive on Thursday to discuss the situation arising out of shortages of petrol, gas and electricity at difference places in the country. Later briefing newsmen, Ministers for Water and Power and Information said that at present the country had 6500 mega watt of power from all sources as against the national demand of 11000 mega watt. Raja Pervez Ashraf said a short fall of 4500 mega watt had been caused by decrease in the water flow, slump in oil and gas supplies needed for thermal generation and had forced load shedding in the country.

The water inflow was at a historic low as it was 36% less than the flow during the corresponding period last year causing a huge drop in hydro generation. The decrease in fuel supplies had caused a shortfall of 2700 mega watt of power in the country, he said. The Water and Power Minister said that in January last year there was a shortfall of 3600 mega watt of power which had now aggravated to 4500 mega watt.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman said the meeting decided that subject to the agreement of Punjab government, IRSA should immediately release additional quantities of water to augment hydro generation. It also decided to provide 50 million metric cubic feet of additional gas and 8000 tons of fuel oil to KESC to increase its power generation capacity. This will lift the burden from WAPDA which will thus be able to inject several hundred megawatts in the national grid supplies to KESC.

It was also decided that 7.5 billion rupees would be immediately released for partially meeting the fuel cost for power generation. She said these measures will result in an immediate improvement in the power supply situation at least in the short term.

The Ministers said the President gave instructions that gas load shedding should not be resorted to for solving the power shortage in the country as it would compound the problems of the people. He said that the measures announced today would provide a short term immediate solution but there was a need for devising strategy for the mid and long term solution of the problem.

He advised the government to convene another smaller meeting this week for making plans for a long term solution of the problem. He said that the smaller meeting should also examine the proposed petroleum policy to provide incentives to entrepreneurs to explore oil and gas in the country. He said that a number of Chinese Companies had shown interest in oil and gas exploration and could be approached for this purpose.-SANA

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