Gas pipeline agreement likely to be signed in a month

KARACHI (November 06 2002) : The presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are likely to sign an agreement for the three-nation gas pipeline project in a month, said Munawar Baseer Ahmed, the newly-appointed Managing Director of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) on Tuesday.

This plan would enable the country become the biggest gas importer in the region and would be able to provide gas to power generating units, including companies like Karachi Electric Supply Corporation, Hub Power Company and other industries, he said.

He was talking to journalists at 'Meet the Press' at SSGC Head Office. The plan for laying-down the pipeline would be finalised in next few months as these three countries are looking for potential investors for this purpose. The government has planned to lay a pipeline from Multan (Punjab) to Turkmenistan, Munawar added.

He further said that a pipeline from Sui (Balochistan) gas field to the 'Pars North' field via Iran would be 1,650 kilometres long with a diameter of 48 inches, and another pipeline is planned from Karachi (Sindh) to the 'Pars North Field' near the proximity of Qatar under the Arabian Sea, which would be 1,600 kilometres long with 44 inches diameter.

Munawar said that the country's current gas reserves have been estimated at around 22.7 trillion cubic feet, which would last for next 25 years, with consumption of 0.900 trillion cubic feet per year. The gas supply would be 3.1 BCFD against the demand for 3.7 BCFD in 2005 with a gap of 0.6 BCFD in 2005.

The neighbouring countries have ample proven reserves of gas in which Iran have 812 trillion cubic feet (TCF), Qatar 300 TCF and Turkmenistan 101 TCF, he said. He said the gas supply would be enhanced to Bin Qasim Power Plant of KESC by March 2003, as the federal government has already approved an increase in supplies to the power utility. The KESC and other departments would be provided all the gas they need since enough would be procured from Sawan and other gas fields, he added.

The gas is being supplied from eight different fields in the country, while construction work on four different gas fields is in progress in Marri area (Balochistan), Gambat and Mubarrak block (Sindh), Sanghar block (Sindh) and Sir Creek block near Thatta, he added.

Senior General Manager of SSGC, M. H. Asif, said that the company has introduced a flexible payment plan under which domestic consumers can decide the due date of their bills. To a question, he pointed out that the recent increase of 1.7 percent in the tariff was an adjustment and not an increase as had been allowed to Karachi Electric Supply Corporation or Water and Power Development Authority.

Replying to a question about gas pipeline project, Munawar informed that only yesterday (Monday) an inter-ministerial meeting was held in Islamabad regarding this mega multi-billion dollar project.

To a question, MD SSGC informed that the company had detected cases of gas theft and it is addressing this issue with all seriousness as saving one percent gas would mean a saving of Rs 250 million, which is something that can be passed on to the profits of stake holders. He said the company has a system to detect gas theft but it is now strengthening it further.

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