By Aamir Latif
Energy-strapped Pakistan will be facing a major power crisis in days to come following an acute shortage of natural gas and furnace oil that has led to closure of several power plants, local media reported.
Several power generation companies are grappling with an “emergency-like” situation as the scarcity of gas and furnace oil is expected to add a shortage of 3,000 megawatt (MW) to already over-burdened national grid, local English daily Dawn quoted unnamed officials of the power ministry as saying on Thursday.
The crisis comes after the government last month decides to move out from furnace oil to imported liquefied natural gas for power generation.
A sudden drop in gas supplies in recent days, according to Dawn, has forced several plants to shut, whereas remaining power companies have no stock of furnace oil following the government’s “fuels-switching” decision.
The officials said they were trying to reach out to the oil companies for restoring immediate supply of furnace oil to ensure smooth supply of power but “it is a Herculean task, and will take time”.
However, the minister for power and energy ministry, Abid Sher Ali, rejected the reports regarding an imminent power crisis, saying all the power plants were operating normally. No power plant has been shut down, Ali told reporters on Thursday.
Once a self-sufficient in power generation, Pakistan has been grappling with an acute energy crisis since last three decades as successive governments failed to cope with the increasing power demand amid growing population and industry.
Pakistan currently generates 4,000 MW to 5,000 MW less electricity compared with its original demand of nearly 25,000 MW.
Islamabad is expected to overcome the simmering power scarcity through a $54 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) project launched in 2014. Nearly 70 per cent of the CPEC projects are energy related.
Earlier this year, Pakistan awarded contract a 100 MW Quiad-i-Azam solar power project to a Turkish energy company Zorlu Enerji Holdings, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.