Short inventory from Iran behind blackouts in Balochistan: minister


Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said on Thursday the govt has haunted with Iran the difficulty of reduced electricity supply from the neighboring country, which is causing hours-long outages in Balochistan.

“Power shortfalls in Iran have led to load-shedding in our Gwadar, Turbat, and Makran regions. These areas aren’t connected to the national grid and are hooked into Iranian power supply,” he said on Twitter, adding that Islamabad has requested Tehran to normalize power supply to the affected areas of Balochistan.

Pakistan imports electricity from Iran for its bordering districts, although the share of imported power within the total electricity consumed in Pakistan is miniscule. The recent drop by supply from Iran is due to a shortage of hydel power generation within the neighboring country, said an energy expert based in Quetta.

Pakistan imported 514GWh from Iran in 2019-20, which was but 0.4 percent of the country’s total electricity generation within the year, consistent with the facility regulator.

“Work is additionally ongoing on connecting these areas with the national grid. This involves laying transmission lines for many kilometres. This project are going to be completed within two years Insha Allah,” Mr Azhar said.

Speaking to Dawn, independent energy consultant Najam ul Hassan Farooqi said the recurring problem can only be solved once the 300MW imported coal-based power station currently under construction in Gwadar comes online. “It’ll take a minimum of three years to line up a 700-kilometre cable from Gwadar to Karachi,” he added.

Power cuts in Quetta

Outages in Balochistan aren’t limited to the bordering areas that receive electricity from Iran. Residents of the capital also are facing power cuts of up to 12 hours every day .

Quetta Cantt is experiencing six hours of loadshedding while the adjoining agricultural areas are experiencing outages of 14 hours on a day to day . Fruit production in orchards around Quetta has dropped due to extended power cuts and voltage fluctuations that affect tube wells.

One of the main reasons is that the “procedural delay” within the allocation of gas to Habibullah Coastal Power, a 140MW gas-based power station located near Quetta. the sole power station within the area sufficient to satisfy the local demand stopped producing electricity in September 2019 when its gas supply agreement with the government-owned Sui Southern gas service expired after 20 years.

The company’s power purchase contract , however, is valid until 2029. Its validity was pegged with the reallocation of gas. The plant has been shut for 21 months because the formal summary has yet to be moved to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) for the allocation of gas.

The energy ministry has indicated that it’ll supply a mix of local and imported gas to the facility plant. the corporate has offered the govt that it’ll abandoning its capacity charge for the three winter months when gas availability is restricted additionally , the federal is dragging its feet on the proposal by a Kuwaiti investment fund that desires to line up a 100MW solar project near Quetta at just 3.72 cents per kWh.

A complete strike was observed within the port city of Gwadar and other areas of the coastal district on Thursday against power failure , which the people of Makran division are facing for over a month, added Behram Baloch. the decision for the strike was given by leaders of the National Party. due to the strike, offices of all banks and personal businesses remained closed.

Shops and markets were already closed the port city thanks to a lockdown imposed by the local administration in sight of the rising cases of Delta variant of Covid-19 within the division. The district headquarters and other towns of Panjgur and Kech districts are under a lockdown for the last one week.

Many people, including women and youngsters , gathered on the roads of Gwadar in protest against the outage. They blocked the Coastal Highway that links the port city with the remainder of the country, suspending traffic between Gwadar and Karachi.

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