ISLAMABAD: Fuel shortages caused by inadequate supply arrangements and forced blackouts are causing severe electricity supply constraints as consumers suffer in extreme humidity across the country.
A senior official in the Electricity Division admitted that utilities were forced by unavoidable circumstances to apply forced power cuts of between 1,000 MW and 2,000 MW at peak times. This does not include revenue-based load shedding of 2,500 to 4,000 MW depending on how the relevant authorities are technically able to address the shortages.
“We are not getting LNG (liquefied natural gas) supplies against firm demand and heating oil supplies are not sufficient to run the available power plants,” the official said.
Management is such that the LNG bids for deliveries from two ships in the second and third weeks of July have been canceled at the rate of $ 11.77 and $ 11.66 per MMBTU (million British thermal units) and l one of them was given to the same party $ 12.78 per MMBTU and one ship was completely missed.
Country-wide load shedding exceeds 5,000 MW under extreme humidity conditions
In addition, power generation from the Mangla dam has dropped and that from the Tarbela dam has not resumed as planned, the official said. As if that weren’t enough, a major 1,300 MW China-Hub power plant was struck by lightning and rolled out of the system. About 1,800 to 2,000 MW are in forced shutdown for technical reasons.
An official said the load shedding decreased on Sunday compared to Saturday despite an accidental exit from the China-Hub power plant.
This was also confirmed by Energy Minister Hammad Azhar in a tweet. “Due to a lightning strike on the China Hub power plant and low outflows from the Mangla dam, part of the local gas (3.75% of the total) is diverted to the electricity sector to meet its peaks of request. It’s a temporary arrangement for a few days, ”he tweeted.
The overall power shortage in the system has hovered between 6,000 and 4,000 MW over the past two days, with humidity rising almost across the country. In a new policy, the government has excluded high-loss areas from estimates of firm electricity demand.
“We no longer consider high-loss consumers as a priority and they are not taken into account in demand projections. We park shortages in these areas and only drop the load in low-loss areas under extremely unavoidable technical circumstances, ”explained an official involved in operational matters.
He said load management varied between two and five hours at varying intervals in urban areas and could go beyond 10 hours in high-loss rural areas. “The load shedding period is as brief as possible and only under dire conditions,” he said, explaining that time-limited power cuts could not be applied under such unpredictable load and weather conditions.
The official said the utilities were receiving 740 mmcfd (million cubic feet per day) of LNG against a firm request of 950 mmcfd until Saturday, which was raised to 780 mmcfd on Sunday with some adjustments here and there in as gas supply to the CNG sector and general industry in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been closed. A shortage of around 1100MW is emerging there. Even the Haveli Bahadur Shah factory was operating at sub-optimal capacity.
Stocks of furnace oil are already depleted at various power plants, the official said. The Muzaffargarh and Hubco factories were closed due to a fuel shortage, while the Jamshoro factory was operating at half capacity. Many other oil factories are operating at critical levels.
Another official said the total power available in the system during peak hours was around 23,000 MW on Sunday against an estimated demand exceeding 27,000 MW.
An oil division official said there were several reasons behind the fuel shortages, including insufficient finances, short notice to organize supplies and general market conditions. He said orders for heating oil from the power sector came at a time when time was limited for the routine supply cycle and galloping tenders were offering prices that were not not acceptable.
The official said that very few heating oil vessels are readily available on the market and those holding them have tried to take advantage of desperate buyers. He said about 9 billion rupees or $ 57 million in additional circular debt had been built into the gas system which had already exceeded 120 billion rupees.
However, a Power division official said Pakistan State Oil had not even delivered fuel oil for which it had received sufficient funds recently thanks to the settlement of around Rs 90 billion for the first tranche of power producers. independent. He said the next payment could not be made until the earlier supplies were delivered.
Posted in Dawn, July 19, 2021