Low fuel stocks and cash constraints have put authorities in the dock as power outages hit consumers across the country and panic buyers resorted to hoarding diesel ahead of an anticipated price hike, even as the regulator and the government tried to assure everyone that things were under control.Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will preside over a meeting on the situation today (Tuesday), the same day as a fresh heatwave, expected to last till May 2, is predicted to sweep across the country. The wave is likely to unleash temperatures at least six to eight degrees higher than normal. The current demand-supply gap, however, is likely to remain unchanged until May 8 and will then start improving as furnace oil and LNG cargoes become available and hydropower supply improves.Oil cargoes have been made to wait longer for docking to give priority to diesel cargoes amid serious port constraints. At present, the peak generation hardly touches 20,000MW while even constrained demand goes beyond 25,000mw.The gap between the demand for electricity and its supply has already exceeded 5,000MW, including 2,500MW of perpetual shortage that is conveniently applied any time to high loss areas. The power sector authorities are virtually chasing power producers for every single megawatt that could be put into the national grid so that loadshedding is cut drastically.A few reports suggest that some districts have been facing diesel shortages for a month but the authorities haven’t done anything to address the situation, while oil marketing companies have either stopped or are providing fewer supplies to the pumps. Multiple factors are to blame for the ongoing diesel scarcity, including the increase in demand because of the wheat harvest, hoarding by pump owners in anticipation of the reversal of energy subsidies, and supply-side hiccups on account of lower imports.According to an official, these two steps — 110mmcfd of gas for a few days around Eid and payment of Rs150bn on account of pending receivables from Azad Kashmir and other provincial and federal departments — could reduce loadshedding to a bearable level.Repair of Engro’s plant affected by a recent accident was expected to be complete this week, but the Port Qasim coal power plant may not be available at least for another fortnight because of technical and fuel issues.
Efforts were in place to chip in Karot power plant’s test operations over the next couple of days Ogra, the oil and gas regulator, has, however, rubbished media reports of severe fuel shortages hitting parts of the province, and has claimed that adequate supplies of petrol and diesel are available in the country to cater to the demand of consumers.
Likewise, the OMCs and refineries say that ample stocks of motor spirit and high-speed diesel are available and that more imports are on their way to Pakistan. Yet, they subtly point out that port congestion may delay the offloading of cargoes that are waiting for their turn at the Karachi port. There is no doubt that the mismanagement of the energy sector — its failure to procure enough fuel and ensure the maintenance of power plants — by the previous government is largely responsible for the current blackouts and shortages at the pump
BEIJING/SHANGHAI:Beijing stepped up quarantine efforts to end its month-old COVID outbreak as fresh signs of frustration emerged in Shanghai, where...Read more