ISLAMABAD -  The proposed, second multi-million dollars terminal being set up at the Port Qasim to handle liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports will give tremendous boost to LNG trade.

Sources in the Ministry of Ports and Shipping said that the new terminal would be ready for operations early next year.

The development comes after the government had abandoned proposed $2 billion Gwadar-Nawabshah gas pipeline project and opted for The Pakistan LNG Terminal Limited, second terminal facility at Qasim Port.

The Pakistan LNG Terminal Limited was to become operational by June 2017 but got delayed for some time.

At present, Pakistan is importing around 600 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) LNG from Qatargas through Engro LNG terminal. LNG imports are set to double in the next five to six months when the second LNG import terminal becomes operational in Pakistan.

“Expeditious efforts are underway to complete the second LNG terminal facility to handle LNG imports at Port Qasim”, sources in the Ministry of Ports and Shipping told The Nation.  

They said demand for LNG in Pakistan would increase in future especially after government’s decision to convert a number of power generating units from oil to gas, therefore plans are being prepared to have requisite terminal facilities.

Port Qasim has been dedicated to handle LNG imports because of the sensitive nature of the trade and congestion at the premier Karachi port. While the new deep sea Gawadar port is yet to be completed.

“Government does have plans for LNG terminal facilities at Gawadar port in future”, sources said.

The agreement, signed in February 2016, will enable Pakistan to import at least 35 million tons of LNG in 15 years at the rate of 13.35% of Brent crude oil.

The fuel is a lifeline for Pakistan, as it is partially meeting the power deficit worsened by almost stagnant gas production over the years.

The imported gas is being utilised mainly for power production, in the fertiliser sector, and conversion to CNG for use in vehicles.

Since Pakistan is becoming one of the leading LNG markets in the region, a number of international gas marketing companies are trying to get their share.

Sources said that apart from Chinese companies a number of companies from East Asian countries have expressed their interest to supply LNG to Pakistan.

Sources were of the view that this has been possible only after Pakistan successfully developed terminal facilities forcing the international players to prepare their investment plans in Pakistan.