K-Electric, government trade barbs over Karachi power outages
Residents of the country’s largest city Karachi have had to sit hours of load shedding in temperatures as high as 39 degree centigrade while the government and K-Electric lay blame on each other for energy shortages.
The situation has been worsened by the pandemic as the residents have no choice but to lounge at homes to maintain social distancing.
“With the onset of extreme hot and humid weather in Karachi, our [K-Electric] peak demand has crossed 3,450MW. Furnace oil is not available in the market to the level required resulting in to 800 metric tonnes shortfall daily. This has been in the news and the government is taking action by allowing imports,” said K-Electric, the power utility company supplying electricity to the metropolitan city, on Friday.
The utility company also blamed the country’s gas supplier the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) for cutting RLNG supply. “Also, a reduction in 50mmcfd RLNG by the SSGChas further added to the challenge,” it added.
The country is undergoing an acute shortage of fuel supplies including RLNG and furnace oil as importers refused to buy adequate quantities in the wake of demand slump caused by the Covid-19 led slowdown.
Countering KE’s claims, the government said the blame lies solely upon the utility company. “ The federal government is providing 800MW electricity to the KE and is ready to provide additional 500MW from the national grid but the KE system physical constraints are a major hurdle in taking the additional electricity.”
“It clearly indicates that system up-gradation on part of KE has not taken place at the appropriate level and with appropriate investment.”
Moreover, it said the KE systems are unable to absorb electricity as the company’s system is scheduled to be upgraded in 2022-23. Denying KE’s claims regarding SSGC, the government said “the supply of LNG is available but on account of Article 158, only a limited quantity of LNG is being taken by KE. The SSGC is providing a total of 250-290mmcfd of gas including 75-100mmcfd of LNG.”
The trading of barbs between the KE and the government has irked Karachi residents who only want continuous flow of electricity. A twitter user, showing his anger to the company, said “power was restored for hardly a minute. Been more than 1.5 hours now since this unannounced load shedding. @KElectricPk is a public enemy.”
Another user, while using the hashtag #karachiblackout, said “Morning load shedding 7-9:30am , noon 3-4pm , unannounced 4:15pm — till now … no signs of electricity.”