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Country to witness 8-hour power outages

Owing to annual canal closure and proposed natural gas supply suspension to power sector in December and January, Water and Power Ministry to limit power load shedding up to 8-hour per day during said two months has sought Rs25 billion from the government. sources well aware of the development told TheNation that the ministry, owing to so far estimated reduced hydel power production and proposed natural gas supply suspension plan of petroleum and natural resources ministry, has now devised a new plan under which reliance on thermal power production would be increased to meet the expected increased power shortfall.

They also told that the power ministry, to materialise the plan, has also sought Rs25billion from the finance ministry. And, power ministry has sought release of such a heavy amount under the head subsidy for the power sector of past two months.

At present govt owned power plants are facing shortage of furnace oil due to not releasing the subsidy. They also said about the complete closure of Guddu power plant within next few days in case furnace oil is not provided to the power plant, and which in result would increase 440mw of power shortfall.

“Hydel power production during said two months would witness a cut of 2000mw,and to control the expected hours long power shortfall, reliance on furnace oil for thermal power generation would go high.

Power load shedding in December and January would be limited to 6 to 8 hours a day,” a senior official at power ministry said earlier, officials and energy experts raised their fear about expected worst power outages from next month following a decision of all provinces to close all canals in December under their annual silt removing campaign. They said an increased power shortfall is expected with the start of December due to reduced hydel power generation and also because of a proposed three-month long gas supply suspension plan.

Following a decision of all provincial governments to launch annual canal closure from December and a ready schedule of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) about water release from both Mangalla and Terbela dams, it is feared that power shortfall in December and January would go above 4,000MW in the country due to reduced hydel power production and also because of a proposed three-month long gas supply suspension plan of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, they added.

Owing to expected acute gas shortage in the winter season, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has so far approved suspending natural gas supply for next three months to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), industrial, commercial, fertiliser and power sectors of the Punjab province while a similar plan for rest of three provinces is also on the cards. However, a final decision about this plan would be taken by the cabinet’s economic coordination committee (ECC).

Earlier, water and power ministry has requested the premier to exempt the power plants from proposed gas supply suspension plan for next three months of December, January, and February. But, petroleum ministry has so far declined to provide natural gas to the power plants.

“For the first time in the history of the country gas supply would be suspended to these sectors of Punjab,” a senior official at the Petroleum Ministry had earlier said, adding, “Common man would bear the heavy brunt of gas shortfall and reduced power generation through hydel power sources during extreme winter.”

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