The electricity shortfall rose to 9,000MW on Monday, forcing the power managers to increase outages up to 18 hours across the country.

The urban areas were badly hit by crisis and facing upto 16-18 hours loadshedding while there was virtually no electricity in rural areas of the country. The severe shortage of fuel for IPPs and Wapda-owned Gencos are the main reason behind the worst loadshedding crisis, according to officials of the power sector.

Sources said the demand and supply gap was standing at 9,000MW. The power generation was around 7,500-8,000MW against the countrywide demand of around 16,500MW. About 600MW from the available generation goes to KESC to meet the demand of port city and over 1000MW is fixed for VVIP feeders and defence installments.

The power plants which were closed for a week or so are Hubco, Kapco, Nishat Power, Nishat Chunian, AES Lal Peer, Atlas Power and dozens others. Both Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and Gencos are generating electricity only 30 per cent of their total capacity. The hydel sources on Monday shared around 4,500MW with the national grid, 50 per cent of the total electricity available in energy basket.

The main source of fuel to power plants was a gas supply from Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited which is likely to decline from Tuesday (today). “The curtailment in gas supply to power sector will further worsen the loadshedding. The government should immediately release funds to power sector for purchasing the fuel,” asserted an official of the power sector.

The SNGPL Senior General Manager Rehan Nawaz told The Nation that gas availability would further decrease due to shutdown for maintenance of Qadirpur Gas Field for seven days.

“We have 1760 million cubic feet gas per day (MMCFD) against the demand of 2300MMCFD in Punjab and KPK,” he said, adding the SNGPL would fully try not to curtail gas (350MMCFD) to power sector. The SNGPL had announced full week gas loadshedding for CNG sector and partial curtailment for industry, said Rehan.

An official of the power sector said, “The fuel arrangements are being made on adhoc basis for the power plants for the past two months. The recovery process is slow, theft is on the rise and demand is also increasing day by day,” he said, adding the decrease in loadshedding in overall scenario was not an easy task. He said the cash-strapped caretaker finance ministry had already refused to allocate billions of rupees for power sector on daily basis.

On Monday, the Lesco conducted 16 hours shutdown in Lahore and 18 hours in rural areas.

The loadshedding with same intensity is continuing in the urban limits of Gepco, Fesco, Mepco and Iesco — the power generation companies in Gujrnawala, Faisalabad, Multan and Islamabad respectively. The blackouts are even worst in KPK, Balochistan and Sindh.