No end to gas crisis.

WINTER is here - and so is the crippling gas crunch. Everyone is frustrated as the two public-sector gas utilities start rationing the fuel. This is not the first winter of shrinking supplies and growing demand. And it won't be the last because successive governments have done little to find a durable solution to the problem. Nor are consumers prepared to modify their lifestyles and stop the wasteful use of gas.

Even businesses haven't done much to prepare themselves, despite early warnings of a worsening crisis this year. They can only brace themselves for a bad winter in terms of gas supplies due to depleted local reserves and unaffordable imported LNG. Recently, senior Petroleum Division officials told a parliamentary panel that there was no option but to ration gas in view of the shortage increasing each year. That is nothing new.

It is exactly what the authorities have been doing over the last one and a half years. What is new is that this year, even households connected to SSGC and SNGPL pipelines will have to go without gas for 16 hours a day since the government has decided - and rightly so - to not provide expensive, imported LNG to residential consumers at a fraction of its actual cost.

Read more: Does LNG hold the key to Pakistan's energy woes?

However, gas rationing as a policy response to growing gas shortages cannot be the answer. Shortages are growing by the year. So is rationing. Pakistan needs gas. What should it do? It is obvious that our gas troubles cannot be dealt with on a long-term basis without increasing supplies.

There are two ways of doing this...

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