ISLAMABAD. As the people grapple with the ongoing heatwave and the unannounced loadshedding, the federal government on Friday said that around 5,739MW power plants are shut because of fuel – including furnace oil, RLNG, and coal – shortages.
“We can produce such an amount of electricity if we get fuel. And, around 2,156 MW of electricity is not available due to technical faults and maintenance,” Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir said in a press conference on Friday. He was accompanied by State Energy Minister Hashim Notezai.
The minister added that the government was making “all-out efforts” to resolve the power issue and it has postponed the Eid holidays of the workers in the power distribution companies.
On Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s decision to end load shedding by May 1, he said the Power Division would receive re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) from the government from the Labour Day and expressed hope it would make the situation a little better.
“We believe that we will witness a decrease in the loadshedding in the next 10 days,” Dastgir said, adding that the government was monitoring the DISCOs. The government has directed the companies to ensure the availability of extra transformers, which are present on trolleys, to use in crisis situations.
“We are witnessing extraordinary demand for electricity as compared to previous years,” he said.
Elaborating on the status of power plants, he said the government was hoping that the Engro’s Thar coal plant would restart producing 300MW electricity from Sunday, the Port Qasim plant, and the plants producing electricity on RLNG.
Like other ministers, Dastgir also blamed former prime minister Imran Khan for the power issues.
To a query over 10-12 hours of blackouts, he said the government would release data on the release and supply of electricity to power distribution companies. “Roughly, 2,300MW of additional demand of electricity has arisen in last one week because some areas are witnessing increased temperatures. The government wants to operate at the demand of 23,000MW demand instead of the required 20,000.”
“Hopefully there will be zero load shedding in the next 10 days.”
The minister added that some independent power producers – including Roush, Fauji, Nandipur, and the 120MW power plant of Faisalabad – are shut since December 13, 2021, because of the PTI’s alleged incompetence. But, he admitted that such plants were not operating because of a lack of power generation need as compared to the recent times when the country required more than 3,000MW from April. He was of the view that it sparked the energy crisis in the country.
“There is a shortage of fuel distribution, not electricity production,” he said and called for maintenance of plants when the country has low electricity demand in the winter season.
To another query, he said the ministry was reviewing the revenue collection, responsiveness to public complaints, and transparency of power distribution companies in purchasing fuel.
In addition to this, the ministry has requested the government to provide Rs108 billion till May 25, Rs136 billion till June 7, and Rs85 billion till June 15 in order to resolve the financial issues. He added that the circular debt currently stood at Rs2,460 billion.