Crippling Gas Shortage in Balochistan – TBP Editorial

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Due to its continental climatic conditions, Balochistan suffers from extreme weather throughout the year. In upper highlands of Balochistan the summers are very hot but similarly the temperature easily and often falls below the freezing point in winters. Temperatures below -15 °C during winters are not uncommon in various parts of Balochistan.

Each year the snowfall and showers coupled with strong westerly winds wreak havoc, causing debilitating consequences for local people. But like many other facilities, the region is ill-equipped to deal with such extreme weather conditions.

Balochistan, a region with rich exhaustible and renewable resources, is the major supplier of natural gas to whole of Pakistan. The Sui Gas field, located in Dera Bugti, has enormous natural gas reserves and has been providing more than 50% of Pakistan’s total output of natural gas since early 1950s. A sophisticated system of pipes take 800mmscf of natural gas, daily from Sui Gas Field’s 87 wells, thousands of miles into the industrial zones of Punjab. But even the domestic consumers in Dera Bugti town, which is only few miles away from the gas field, have not been able to take the benefit of its own natural resources. The locals to this day resort on chopping trees down to fulfil their energy needs.

This is not limited to Dera Bugti only. In fact, only a mere four districts out of 33 in Balochistan get direct gas supply: Quetta, Ziarat, Mastung and Kalat. Even that supply suffers from reduction in gas pressure and load-shedding in winter months. Amid freezing temperatures, gas pressure reduction, load shedding and lack of facilities add to the miseries of the people and citizens face difficulties in severe cold every year.

Locals take to the streets and opposition politicians raise the issue in legislative assemblies every year. But things are only changing for worse. Despite the new major natural gas reservoirs that were discovered last year at Shekhri, in Kalat district of Balochistan, containing reserves of 1 Trillion cubic feet, the gas supply to the four districts of Balochistan is depleting each year. This is due to channelling of existing gas supply to Punjab and Sindh provinces due to increased demand in those areas.

This and many other issues only confirm the stance of Baloch nationalist politicians that the resources of region are being exploited and “plundered” by the state, while the local people of Balochistan enjoy no benefit of their own natural resources.

Balochistan shall have precedence in meeting its requirements from its own natural resources. Any other arrangements without the consent of Baloch people will only increase the disgruntlement and projects such as China Pakistan Economic Corridor will be seen as exploitative projects.

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