Continuous RLNG shortfall to haunt power sector in summer

Khalid Mustafa
Friday, Mar 31, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The power sector would face a continuous shortage in RLNG supply from April to September 2023, with Sui Northern system having about 750mmcfd of which it will retain 25mmcfd, with 150mmcfd reserved for Sui Southern, and 125mmcfd for K-Electric.

“This may force the government to place a cut on RLNG supply to industry (export and non-export) to increase RLNG flow to the power sector or utilise furnace oil-based power plants when the demand peaks in summer to over 26,000MW,” a senior official told The News. “Local furnace oil may be utilised in the RFO-based power plants which may cause a hike in power tariff.” Pakistan is importing 900mmcfd RLNG. Of this, 800mmcfd is from Qatar under two GtG agreements and one cargo is under a term agreement from Italian-based LNG trading company—ENI.

Since Pakistan is facing a dollar liquidity crunch, it has not been procuring spot LNG cargoes from the international market. LNG prices have dwindled to $12-13/MMBTU which had once hit the staggering figure of $40/MMBTU.

Right now, the official said, the RLNG volume in the gas pipeline has reduced to 4.221bcfd as the imported gas flow has increased to the power sector by up to 621mmcfd. The export sector is being provided RLNG of 120mmcfd and local industry 45mmcfd.

The line pack should not go down beyond 3.8bcfd and increase to 5.4bcfd as the very existence of the RLNG pipeline system would land in the red zone in either scenario. The pipeline is also acting as RLNG storage and to meet the demand of the power sector, the gas company has sucked in 53mmcfd of RLNG from the pipeline.

As per the official documents arranged from the power division, the demand for RLNG for the power sector in the month of April stands at 820mmcfd, while the RLNG supply will be available at 650mmcfd showing a deficit of 170mmcfd.

Likewise, the power division demands 910mmcfd for May, 930mmcfd for June, 830mmcfd for July, 780mmcfd for August, and 670mmcfd for September. On the other hand, RLNG supply would be at 630mmcfd for May, 530mmcfd for June, 540mmcfd for July, 560mmcfd for August and 510mmcfd for September.

“The power division will increase its focus on coal-based power generation, renewable hydro generation, nuclear and RLNG-based generation and will not import RFO for electricity generation,” the official said.