Scores of women took to the streets on Monday in Quetta to protest against the incessant gas load-shedding, frequent pressure drops and excessive billings. The protestors blocked the Quetta-Chaman highway, jamming the traffic. They also raised slogans against the government.
The protestors said that the gas load-shedding in these chilly winter days has created many problems for them. We’ve complained to the authorities many times in this regard, no one seems to pay heed, they said.
They said that we pay thousands of rupees in bills, yet the amount of gas we receive is next to nothing. They demanded that the load-shedding must be ended, or such protests will continue to occur.
It is pertinent to mention that Balochistan holds that largest reservoirs of natural gas in the region. Sui gas field, operated by Pakistan Petroleum Limited, is the largest gas field in the region – some meticulous estimates have put the amount of natural gas available in Sui at an astounding 28 trillion cubic feet. In 1995, the Sui gas field accounted for more than 56% of Pakistan’s natural gas supply. In the same year, Balochistan only received 5% of the total gas output of Sui – a staggeringly meagre proportion as other areas of Pakistan receive as much as 51%. Punjab is the largest consumer of natural gas, followed by Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan respectively.
For the past six decades, only 14 towns out of 34 districts of Balochistan have gained access to natural gas supply. Even the inhabitants of the town of Sui, which produces 800mmscf of natural gas daily from its 87 wells, themselves long for natural gas. The locals there can be seen chopping down trees and shrubs, collecting small pieces of wood (known as moch) washed away by the occasional floods on their way to the town to meet their energy demands, or even by utilizing dry faeces as a source of fuel.
The Oil and Gas Development Company of Pakistan reported earlier this November that it has found natural gas deposits in Musa Khel, Balochistan. Other discoveries were also reported in various areas of Balochistan in the past, including Kalat and Ziarat.