ISLAMABAD - The government has lifted ban on new connections to the compressed natural gas (CNG) stations after nine years, and has allowed the stations to apply for the supply of Re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG).

The Directorate General Gas Petroleum Division Wednesday conveyed its decision to the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company that the moratorium had been lifted.

The ban on new connections to the industrial and commercial entities had been imposed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in 2011 due to severe gas shortage in the country.

Earlier, the government had lifted the ban on the supply of LNG to the industrial and commercial power sectors. However, the ban on gas connections to retail CNG consumers was still in force.

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) had also stopped issuing licences to the applicants for CNG stations since then.

Dozens of aspirants for CNG stations had purchased lands, built the infrastructure and even imported machinery, but failed to get connections after the ban took effect, a source privy to the development told The Nation.

“There are around 50 such stations in the country which have waited for almost nine years to get the connections,” the source said.

Currently CNG stations in Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory are using RLNG which is expensive fuel and costs more than the indigenous gas. While CNG stations, in other parts of the country, use indigenous gas. The liter gauge is used for the sale of CNG in Punjab and ICT, while in KP it is sold in kilograms.

Besides, the source said that some 600 CNG stations were destroyed or had become useless due to the construction of new roads. “Owners of these stations cannot use their old licences for relocation of their stations,” the source maintained.

Meanwhile, the Central Chairman of All Pakistan CNG Association Ghiyas Paracha has welcomed lifting of the ban on new connections to the CNG stations.

“We welcome this decision as it will give new life to the CNG sector,” he said.

Paracha said that owners of hundreds of completed CNG stations had been waiting for the gas connections for years, which would now start functioning through RLNG gas connections.

Promotion of CNG fuel will lead to the saving of around one billion dollars annually on petroleum import bill.

“We expect OGRA to soon start working on issuing licences to CNG stations powered by RLNG,” he added.