Islamabad - The federal government has convened an emergency meeting of stakeholders for today (Friday) to sort out the excruciating power crisis and unannounced loadshedding in Karachi.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Energy said that on directives of Federal Minister for Power Division Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, the Power Division has convened the emergency meeting of K-Electric, the Petroleum Division and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to resolve the crippling load-shedding crisis in Karachi.

The Power Division has also asked the K-Electric to immediately convene the board meeting to discuss (NEPRA’s letter) and resolve the problem of load-shedding on a permanent basis. The load-shedding in Karachi started after the gas supply to the K-Electric was severed by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) on ‘non-payment’ of dues.

Taking notice of 10-hour unscheduled load-shedding in Karachi, the NEPRA decided to initiate legal proceedings against the K-Electric. The NEPRA’s committee visited K-Electric to investigate the unannounced load-shedding and had noted that K-Electric was receiving around 50 to 60 MMCFD less gas as compared to April 2017 and the situation has worsened due to increase in power demand owing to the early onset of the summer.

Moreover, it was noted that the infrastructure for alternate fuel/ high-speed diesel (HSD) operation at both the gas turbine based power plants of Korangi Combined Cycle Power Plant and Bin Qasim Power Station-II was available, however, the K-Electric has not yet commissioned the same and adopted an irresponsible approach in this regard.

The committee further noted that “the average loading position of BQPS-I was only 647 MW against the available capacity of 1015 MW. Moreover, it was observed that Unit # 2 of BQPS-I having the available capacity of 180 MW is on unplanned outage since September 2017 which indicates KE’s poor maintenance plan”.

Furthermore, the committee noted that the load management carried out by the K-Electric was beyond its claims and in addition to load-shedding on account of gas curtailment. It said that “the K-Electric network also experienced faults adding to the unplanned load-shedding hours due to its fragile distribution system”.

The NEPRA has also sent an advisory to the government of Pakistan (being a 24 percent shareholder) for the immediate restoration of gas supply of 190 MMCFD to KE by the SSGC.

Meanwhile, talking to this reporter, a spokesman for the K-Electric said that KE’s generation capacity continued to remain impaired owing to the reduced gas supply from the SSGC. “While the power utility is maximizing all available generation fleet to provide maximum relief to the people, an adequate gas is imperative to normalize the power situation in the city,” the spokesperson said.

In addition to supplying power to the city through own sources, the power utility is also using power from IPPs and national grid to provide an approximately 2,300 MW to Karachi. The urgent need of 190 MMCFD gas required by K-Electric is further asserted in the summary of the report issued by NEPRA yesterday.

In its preliminary comments on a summary, the K-Electric highlights that the Bin Qasim Power Station-I is the only dual-fuel plant within KE’s existing generation fleet having a dependable capacity of 989 MW and currently generating close to 800 MW. The plant has 6 units and of which, 5 are operational and one is undergoing maintenance. “The fact that this one unit is offline is already part of public record and mentioned in our earlier statements. It may be noted that under normal circumstances with adequate gas supply, maintenance would not have created any issue, as KE had enough generation capacity available which would have enabled it to manage demand before the start of peak summer season (May and June). KE continues to make all-out efforts to bring the said unit online at the earliest,” the K-Electric said.

“The facility of alternate high-speed diesel involves technical parameters and considerations and, as such currently, the gas-fired plants are not in a position to immediately switch to an alternate fuel. The process to initiate this conversion/ commissioning is lengthy and therefore an immediate solution to bring these plants online remains the provision of required gas,” it said.



Emergency meeting on Karachi loadshedding today