ISLAMABAD: The Sui-Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) has restored gas supply to Compressed Natural Gas Stations (CNG) in Punjab, Petroleum Ministry officials and All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) said.

According to Petroleum Ministry officials, the restoration of gas supply to CNG outlets in Punjab was made possible through the imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), adding that the current price of imported LNG to CNG is $12.5 per Million British Thermal Units (MMBTU). The government has exempted the users of LNG from Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) and only 5 percent General Sales Tax (GST) against normal 17 percent is imposed on the LNG consumers, the official added.

The local gas was being provided to CNG industry at almost $10 per MMBTU which also included GST and GIDC, which CNG outlets were selling to the final consumers at Rs 75 per kg in Khyber Pakthunkawa and Pothohar regions, while the commodity is being provided at Rs 58.50 per liter.

A medium CNG cylinder was filled by paying Rs 600 when local gas was made available to CNG stations, which now costs Rs 750, meaning thereby the monetary cost of the commodity has increased by 25 percent, but on account of mileage it is still cheaper than petrol. By spending Rs 750 a car on gas covers up to 200 kilometers, while a vehicle running on petrol covers a maximum 140 kilometers.

The final price includes the cost of LNG, 4 percent commission for Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and transportation charges of 57 cents per mmbtu to be given to the gas utility.

According to Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, Chairman Supreme Council APCNGA a total of 600 CNG stations re-opened for 20 days in Punjab after a gap of eight years. He thanked the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for allowing CNG outlets to use the gas, saying that it was a great step which will help thousands of people to earn their livelihoods.

Ghiyas Paracha said that after three weeks, CNG stations would be closed for 3-4 days and then reopened again so that masses could get affordable fuel.

He said that the CNG stations that had paid advance for LNG supply started getting gas after arrival of LNG shipment from Qatar.

Now CNG is available across Punjab and on all the important points in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore and other cities, he added.

The country has a total of 3,495 CNG stations, of which 2,400 were in Punjab but after the intensification of gas crisis some 700 CNG stations became bankrupt and the owners have shutdown. Gas supply to CNG stations of Punjab is suspended since November 15, 2014, while in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan there is no gas load-shedding for the CNG sector but in Sindh during summer there is no gas load-shedding for CNG stations while in winter CNG stations remain open 4 days a week.

The leader of the CNG sector said the number of CNG stations providing clean fuel to masses would swell to one thousands within few days to provide fuel that is comparatively 30 percent cheaper to petrol.

The revolutionary decision of the government will have a positive impact on CNG sector, environment, oil import bill, transport fares and foreign exchange reserves, he said, adding that now there would be no queues on the CNG filling stations. Paracha was of the view that the CNG sector has arranged gas through import therefore it should not be considered as a burden on local gas reserves.

He asked the government to expedite construction of LNG terminals and pipelines to transport LNG adding that the price will not go up during next decade while possibility of a slide is always there.