ISLAMABAD - With quashing stay order obtained against OGRA’s determination of gas theft and non-operating income of gas company for FY 12-13 seems that one of the biggest burden put on hard pressed gas consumers without any argument looks like to reach an end.

Sources aware of the matter informed TheNation that a ray of hope has arisen with quashing stay order by Honourable Lahore High Court to shed the heavy burden worth Rs 38 billion put on gas consumers in the past by state-owned gas utilities on account of Unaccounted for Gas (UfG) and declaring non-operating income as operating income is likely to logically end very soon.

Both the gas companies Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) had obtained stay orders against Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) determination for Unaccounted for Gas (UfG) and non-operating income during last three fiscal years (FYs) which had cost this nation by Rs 38 billion. Honourable Supreme Court had directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to recover these amounts from those involved in gas utilities and Ogra. NAB had already started investigation and established that Rs38 billion corruptions occurred because of alleged connivance of former chairman Ogra Tauqir Sadiq and Member (Gas) Mansoor Muzaffar ostensibly with private shareholders in FY 09-10. Member Gas is in NAB custody while Tauqir Sadiq is absconded. The bureau is also scrutinised both gas utilities.

Justice Ayesha Malik of Lahore High Court has vacated stay order acquired against OGRA’s gas price determination of FY 12-13 by the gas company apparently with the support of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources (MP&NR) on 29th May. She commented that gas companies cannot be run on stay orders for years together while undermining the regulator and compromising efficiency of gas companies.  Justice Ayesha Malik will now be conducting detailed hearing in early August for all the three years (10, 11 and 12,13), which have now been combined. Salman Akram Raja very effectively defended Ogra and largely the pressed masses bearing the brunt of skyrocketing gas prices from a long time while getting the stay order vacated.

SNGPL had proposed a reduction of Rs 0.47/MMBTU while OGRA had determined reduction of Rs 47.5/MMBTU. The line losses have now been reduced from 7percent to 4.5per cent of the company. Rs 2.5 billion of late payment surcharge has also been given to consumers instead of private shareholders of gas companies.

The vacation of the said stay order have resulted in around Rs 15 billion saving to gas consumers now along with nation wide gas price reduction of Rs 49/mmbtu (11per cent decrease). The stay order acquired by SSGCL and MPNR in Sindh High Court (SHC) is still in vogue owing to which sale price has only been reduced by MPNR recently by 7per cent on average i.e. Rs 29/mmbtu, which has cost the ever burdened gas consumers of this country by Rs 8 billion. The said stay order is likely to be vacated soon by SHC in line with the decision of honourable court and outcome of NAB enquiry in these regards.

Salman Akram Raja the legal council of Ogra while talking to this scribe found much hopeful that honorable Sindh High Court (SHC) would also vacate the stay order acquired by SSGCL following the cancellation of stay order obtained by SNGPL by the honorable Lahore High Court (LHC) against Ogra determination of UfG and declaring non-operating income of gas company for FY12-13. He said the hard pressed gas consumers of country would soon met with good news, adding, it is irrational and unfair as well to fix UfG at 7 pc and declare non-operating income of gas utilities as operating income that had and would put heavy burden on the masses so is detrimental to the interests of public at large.

 Available documents have, however, disclosed nervous breaking information that during last two fiscal years (FY 2010-11 & FY 2011-12) a heavy amount worth in around Rs 38 billions has been additionally collected from the consumers owing to the statement of farmer Petroleum Secretary Petroleum Imtiaz Qazi in Lahore High Court (LHC) on 02 December, 2010 resultantly additional burden of expansive gas was passed on the consumer’s that had added to the miseries of general public and created hue and cry in the society.

 Through its letter, Ogra also pleaded to the government to review its decision in the larger interest of general public and necessary initiatives to give an end to the series of exploitations being done with the over burdened gas consumers. 

“In view of above, federal government is requested to revisit its stance in the larger public interest and take necessary actions to vacate the high court’s stay order granted against Ogra’s above referred decision”, Ogra’s letter reads.

Similarly, according to sources in Ogra, with accordance to international business rules, earning from above said sources come under operating income and even if it is declared non-operating income then hefty amount worth in billions will go in the pockets of companies’ shareholders. So in a bid to satisfy the expenditures of gas companies prices of gas will have to be made more expansive.

Sources have further informed that due to declaring the income of gas companies from above said sources as non-operating income, shareholders have earned a heavy profit of Rs20 billion.

Likewise, in accordance with Ogra’s letter, SNGPL had faced a loss of Rs12 billion, thus had caused bad impact on gas infrastructure and development work. “ In case of SNGPL, Rs 12 billion of gas development surcharge has been eroded in FY 2011-12 alone”, Ogra letter reads.