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Theft of gas, electricity ‘biggest’ threat: experts

The theft of electricity and natural gas is the biggest problem facing Pakistan – and the energy crisis cannot be solved without curtailing it, experts said at the Jang Forum in Karachi on Thursday.

They added that the rules of business governing energy sector investment in Pakistan are obsolete. According to them, the rules offer no incentive for efficiency and innovation – and have discouraged investors,

The experts also criticized the role of energy sector regulators.

Sohail Wajahat, Former Federal Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, said that there has to be one dedicated energy ministry and a consistent policy at least for a period of 10 years.

“There was no rocket science involved in improving the things in short run, only courage and honesty was the need of the hour,” Wajahat said.

He categorically said that there was no ‘unaccounted for gas (UFG)’ adding that every single mmcfd of gas noted as UFG was already identified.

He said that gas utility companies and authorities were well aware of the culprits stealing gas but no action was taken due to political compromises.

“If the gas theft is dealt with iron hands, 400mmcfd can be saved,” Wajahat added.

He said that 700mmcfd was capped in different areas – and that this should be brought into the system.

Wajahat stressed that the CNG should be ended for both public and private vehicles adding that public vehicles burning natural gas were still charging fares at the rate of diesel.

The former minister said that the extent of electricity theft could be gauged by the fact that WAPDA collected Rs53 billion per month for energy supplied while it burned furnace oil worth Rs90 billion per month to generate the electricity sold.

He said that presently the energy demand stood at 20,000MW. This was increasing by 2.5-3.0 percent per year and would reach 30,000MW in five years.

Asad Umar, leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), said that provinces would have to play their role and the hydro potential should be harnessed through small-scale run-of-the-river projects wherever feasible – particularly in KPK.

He said that it was the responsibility of provinces to improve the security situation and provide facilitation to investors for expediting exploration and production activities.

He said that clearing the circular debt would not make a difference – there has to be a bigger plan with right person at the right place in the center.

Umar also advocated the formation of a single integrated energy ministry. He criticized the PML-N government for surrendering its commitment towards this cause.

Former ENGRO chief said that power theft should be dealt with iron hands without any prejudice or discrimination as it was costing Rs300 billion per year.

M.A Jabbar, Former President of SITE Association, said that in the past incompetent and corrupt persons in policy making has caused daunting loss to the country. Jabbar stressed upon the strict monitoring and audit of furnace oil purchase and its consumption by the generation companies as it involved corruption worth billions of rupees.

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