Winter woes


As the chill of winter settles in, Pakistan finds itself grappling with a critical issue that has long haunted its energy landscape – a structural shortage of natural gas. The arrival of the colder months has not only intensified the demand for heating but has also exposed the vulnerabilities in the country’s gas infrastructure.
Major cities nationwide are contending with a shortage of natural gas for both households and factories, amplifying the challenges of an already difficult winter. The seasonal heating demand has more than doubled gas consumption compared to the summer months, creating a pressing issue for citizens who now face both a shortage of gas and bone-chilling temperatures.
In places like Peshawar, residents recount occasional low pressure and prolonged outages, evoking memories of the previous winter when families were forced to resort to firewood for basic cooking needs. This recurring problem is not isolated, as the entire nation grapples with the repercussions of a dwindling gas supply.
Pakistan, with natural gas contributing 48 percent to its energy mix, is caught in a precarious situation between depleting reserves and surging demand, particularly during the winter months. The demand-supply gap highlighted by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) suggests a looming crisis that has the potential to disrupt daily life and add financial strain through increased power bills.
The supply woes will keep increasing as the demand spikes in tandem with falling winter temperatures before peaking in January, forcing the utilities to completely cut off supplies to certain sectors and ration the fuel for others, including households. This situation is not new for people and has been going on for more than a decade and a half. The reasons for gas shortages in the country are well known.
The affordability of gas is not the sole concern for residential consumers. Winter gas shortages lead to supply cuts and rationing, creating a massive blow and constant headache for households. This cycle has persisted for over a decade.
With natural gas comprising 38 percent of the country’s total primary energy supply, the imbalance between around 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) domestic production and the estimated 6-8 bcfd domestic demand underscores a persistent supply-demand gap. To address this, Pakistan must focus on discovering new domestic sources, reducing dependence on expensive imports, and fostering a sustainable energy future.
As the winter challenges persist, it becomes imperative for the country to confront its energy crisis head-on. Only through strategic investments in domestic discoveries and comprehensive reforms can the nation hope to overcome the perennial issues of gas supply and affordability, ensuring a warmer and more secure future for its citizens.