Govt. intends to reimburse Rs 2.8 bln gas inflated bills before upcoming winter

ISLAMABAD, Sep 15 (APP):The government has decided to reimburse an amount of Rs 2.8 billion, charged additionally because of unusual pressure factor by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), to gas consumers before the upcoming cold weather.

“OGRA, after its calculation, had recommended that Rs 2.8 billion were additionally charged from the consumers, and on this, we (the government) had issued directives for the reimbursement. But, currently the matter is pending with a court, and as soon as the case is disposed of, the reimbursement will be made,” a senior official privy to the petroleum sector developments told APP.

He said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and SNGPL had been directed to get the case disposed of at the earliest. “The overcharged amount will be returned as the case is discharged, which we hope will be done before the coming winter.”

Following the complaints of inflated gas bills, the government had ordered three inquiries including an internal, by a chartered accountants’ firm – AF Ferguson – and the PM’s Inspection team.

The quarters concerned had examined readings of gas pressure for the months of December-2018, January and February-2019 to determine the pressure factor in the inflated bills, he added.

Answering a question, he said the Petroleum Division of Energy Ministry would launch a rigorous countrywide gas conservation drive during the current month to create awareness among masses for judicious use of the commodity and avoiding excessive billing.

Under the drive, he said the consumers would be educated that a geyser and heater consumed how much gas during 24 hours, adding the citizens would be helped in installing efficient appliances and equipment to save the commodity.

He said both Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Company Limited (SNGPL), along with all stakeholders, would actively participate in the gas conservation drive.

The official advised the gas consumers to avoid excessive use of gas and install efficient gas appliances to maintain smooth flow in transmission lines till the tail-end during the peak winter.

He was of the view that consumers should also install quality gas appliances with proper fittings, avoiding rubber pipes, as it would help curtail their utility bills, ensure safety and save the commodity for its judicious use by all consumers.

Commenting on gas pipelines and distribution system, he said mechanism of utility bills’ payment was being revamped. Under which, the utility bill would be delivered to consumers within 48 hours after its issuance, having time-limit (due date) of 15 days to deposit.
This system, he said, had been agreed, in principle but would take one to two months for implementation.

He said Mobile App and Web Portal would be launched to facilitate gas consumes to lodge their complaints, which could be operated using consumer identity number.

Replying to a question about the ongoing anti-gas theft drive, the official said the two state companies, SSGC and SNGPL, had removed approximately 4,750 illegal connections and managed to reduce Unaccounted For Gas (UFG) losses by around Rs 1.95 billion that stood Rs 50 billion annually.

The companies are carrying out anti-gas theft operation with zero tolerance across the country, which helped in bringing down the UFG ratio drastically and saving millions of rupees, he added.

He said within months after launching the countrywide campaign against gas pilferers, the companies dealt with approximately 79,325 commodity pilferers, registered 86 First Information Reports (FIRs) and removed around 4,750 illegal connections from their distribution and transmission networks, saving over Rs 1,959.07 million.

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