‘North-South Gas Pipeline Project – imperative for overcoming gas shortage’

Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul on Monday said that North-South Gas Pipeline Project is imperative for overcoming gas shortage adding that it would play an important role in socio development of the country.

Speaking at a “Scoping Meeting on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Study (ESIA) North South Gas Pipeline Project in Pakistan” jointly organized EMC Pakistan Private Ltd and Oriental Stream here she said it was a gigantic project under which around 800 km gas pipeline would be laid from Nawabshah to Nankana Sahib. However, she said it was also important to review the project impact on environment.

She said local gas reserves were gradually depleting amid continuous increasing demand and it was necessary to revisit our energy mix and explore lowest cost clean energy.

The minister said we have to give due consideration to the environment before executing all mega development projects.

She was of the views that in the modern world, the economic growth and living standards of any nation depends upon its energy security. “Now as the Prime Minister envisaged a revolutionary poverty reduction program and revamping economies, energy demand is likely to rise manifold.

Zartaj Gul said a demand for 8 to 10 billion cubic feet per day is expected by 2030 against current production level of 3.8 billion cubic feet per day. She said, “for Pakistan, gas offers best low cost alternative as it is clean, safe, efficient and environment friendly fuel”.

While assuring fully support of the ministry for the project, the minister said the ministry could coordinate with the provincial governments to avoid any unnecessary delay in EIA review process. She hoped that planting of trees along the pipeline route would be carried out for.

Earlier, in his welcome address Chief Operating Officer EMC Asif Shuja Malik said the project aimed at the PM’s clean and green programme . Every mega projects required to obtain environmental assessment report from the concerned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he added. However, sometime mega projects faced unnecessary delay due to late environmental approval which needed to cut down

Managing Director EMC Pakistan Private Ltd Syed Nadeem Arif said domestic resources could not fulfilled the ever increasing demand and supply of gas so she has initialed many projects to bridge the gap.

He said it would a flagship project and would cost $ which 2 billion. The project would be developed on build operate own and transfer (BOOT) ) basis, he said. Mr Gerry Preskey of Oriental Stream Private Ltd said the project would fulfill all national and international legislation and would help alleviate energy crisis. As, local labour and equipment would be taken from Pakistan, he said it would also be beneficial for local and regional communities.

Project Manager EMC Saquib Ejaz Hussain while highlighting the scope of the ESIA study, said that survey has already been started and all stakeholders would be taken on board The study report would be sent to the EPA for approval, he said. He said that project is likely to start in 2020 and would be completed by 2022.

Later, a national-level interactive session was also held aimed inviting comments of the concerned stakeholders on the possible environmental and social impacts of the proposed “North-South Gas Pipeline project” to be built to overcome widening shortfall of natural gas supply in the country.

The EMC Pakistan has been given the task to conduct ESIA study of the project. The interactive session on the proposed gas pipeline project was held as the first such meeting of a series of consultative sessions that will be held later at the provincial and district levels in the country. The 800 kilometres-long North-South Gas Pipeline project will be constructed to transport natural gas from Nawabshah in Sindh to Karianwala, Nankana Sahib in Punjab.

The project will be used to supply RLNG to the Northern region of Pakistan as pipeline so laid will run along the Eastern periphery of the country.

The pipeline route will start from Nawabshah as it will traverse through Khairpur, Sukkur, and Ghotki in Sindh and Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Vehari, Pakpattan, Bhalwalnagar, Okara, Kasur, and Nankana Sahib Districts in Punjab. At the outset of the interactive meeting, its audience was informed that the gas pipeline project was being developed in the country to meet international standards of good practices in the management of environmental and social issues. Before work can begin an ESIA is a mandatory as per the provincial Environmental Laws of Pakistan.

The ESIA to be conducted will assess how the project might impact upon the environment and communities in the area. It will also identify ways of managing these impacts so that negative impacts can be avoided or minimized and positive impacts can be maximized.

The audience of the session was informed that the environmental assessment of the project would be based on comparative evaluation approach. Initially the baseline or the profile of the project area will be developed by site surveys, collecting data, records and information on physical, ecological / biological as well as socio-economic environment. The data so compiled will then be projected or modeled for different phases of projects, i.e. design, construction, and operations.

The output of the ESIA process is a report that documents these findings and will be used to develop environmental and social management plan for project execution. The ESIA report will be submitted to the Provincial EPAs (Sindh and Punjab).

Published in Daily Times, November 20th 2018.