ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday sacked the chiefs of Sui Natural Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) over a severe winter energy crisis that has seen repeated supply outages.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the government’s main spokesman, said Khan took the decision after an inquiry committee found that the two companies were responsible for the crisis.
Since the start of the winter, Pakistanis using natural gas for cooking and heating, as well as factories and power plants that rely on the fuel, have experienced significant inconvenience due to low gas pressure or no supply at all.
Factories and business in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub, have been badly affected, threatening jobs and the livelihoods of workers.
“Recently, people have faced a severe gas supply crisis,” Chaudhry said in a statement…The prime minister has announced the immediate sacking of the heads Sui Southern and Sui Northern,” the statement said.
Pakistan has suffered from chronic energy supply problems for years, with regular power blackouts and gas outages caused by a mix of poorly maintained distribution networks, inefficient regulation and poor governance.
The country has significant natural gas reserves that can fill almost half its energy requirements but supply constraints have led to increasing demand for LNG imports.
Khan’s critics say the natural gas companies are not solely responsible for the recent energy crisis, pointing to decisions made by his government which have discouraged the importing of LNG.
In October, the new government announced it would renegotiate agreements for two liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals as part of a wider investigation into deals struck by the previous government.
The rapid adoption of LNG infrastructure made Pakistan one of the industry’s fastest-growing markets in Asia, sparking interest from the world’s major energy producers and traders.
As part of moves to increase energy generation, Pakistan and the World Bank on Wednesday signed a financing agreement worth $100 million for a solar energy project in the southern part of the country, a finance ministry statement said.