Outages to continue until nuclear plants restored to full capacity.

ISLAMABAD -- Federal Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir Khan has said the government has ordered an audit to identify weaknesses in transmission system across the country and would soon introduce new technologies and practices to ensure power breakdowns are geographically contained and have 'blackstart' facility for quick recovery of the entire national grid.

He expressed these views at a news conference, which was called to announce the full restoration of all the 1112 grid stations across the national transmission network on Tuesday at 5:15am after about a 22-hour countrywide breakdown though the consumers continued to face outages.

He said additional load shedding could continue for two more days until the nuclear power plants at Chashma and Karachi are restored to full capacity. He conceded that the system operator - National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) - was without a regular managing director. He said the government had taken a very serious notice of irregular appointment of a deputy managing director, Banatwala, and a stern action would follow very shortly.

Minister Khan said the 'actual cause' of widespread power breakdown was 'still unknown', as the government was looking into the question of computer hacking although its possibility was negligible given the maximum reliance of the country's transmission network on manual system.

'However, since there had been some incidents of cyberattacks and hacking in recent past, we want to rule out this possibility as well,' he added.

He said there was no report of fire and other incident across the system and the transmission network remained safe and faultless. He also strongly contested the opposition claim that the power plants did not have enough fuel stocks, saying there were and still are sufficient fuel stocks available but the government had been utilising fuel with economy to minimise higher fuel costs while other sources of power generation were sufficient to meet reduced energy demand.

The power minister said a three-member inquiry committee constituted by the prime minister and led by minister of state for petroleum Dr Musadik Malik had started its work and the power division and all its entities would provide full cooperation and assistance.

He blamed the previous PTI government was disrupting the development and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects over the past four years which could have strengthened the transmission network. They kept on harping...

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