The ease-of-doing business plan, introduced by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, has started yielding the required results as the private sector players are flexing muscles to start import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the coming months. “The government had floated a tender to auction the additional capacity of LNG terminals, against which four applications have been received. Currently, the award of unutilized capacity is in process and following which, hopefully the import of private molecules will start in April-May,” a senior official privy to petroleum sector developments told APP. He foresaw the same trend of LNG import in near future, adding the months of November and February were considered the lowest gas consumption months. At present, the official said, the re-gasification volume is at around 1,000 Million Cubic Feet per Day (MMCFD) against the total existing capacity of around 1,200 MMCFD gas. “So, the government has no serious concern with regard to any unutilized capacity and if there is any [unutilized capacity], it has auctioned it,” he said. After seeing the enormous LNG trade potential in Pakistan, as many as four private sector companies have recently stepped in to carry out regulated activities of the commodity across the country. In a significant development, Oil and Gas Development Authority (OGRA) has recently granted the first-ever marketing licences to two companies for undertaking regulated activities with regard to the sale of natural gas and LNG. Besides it issued two ‘provisional licences’ of supplying LNG through cryogenic bowzers to consumers especially where the regular gas transmission network does not exist. The authority allowed Tabeer and Energas companies for the regulated activity of sale of natural gas and LNG for an initial period of 10 years, subject to fulfillment of execution of Gas Transportation Agreements with Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), service agreements for metering/billing to the consumers and safety issues, LNG supply agreements, besides signing of contracts with LNG terminal operators. Whereas, the ‘provisional licences’ were granted to the LNG Easy (Private) Limited and Daewoo Gas Private Limited’ companies to pursue the LNG virtual pipeline project for supply of the commodity through cryogenic bowzers. The provisional licences would enable the virtual pipeline companies to complete all formalities under rules and apply for carrying out LNG regulated activities in the country. The country’s existing natural gas reservoirs are depleting fast at a rate of 9.5 percent annually, and LNG is the only available instant remedy to bridge the increased gap between demand and supply of the country. Currently, the country’s indigenous gas production is around 3.7 Billion Cubic Feet per Day (BCFD) against the demand of 6 BCFD to meet requirements of more than 9.6 million consumers across the country. According to a recent report of OGRA, the gap between demand and supply of gas could increase by 5,389 MMCFD by 2029-30, if the necessary measures were not taken to increase the local exploration and production activities besides and streamline the matters related to the LNG import. 2020 LNG demand: Global liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade increased to 360 million tonnes in 2020, according to Shell’s latest annual LNG Outlook published today, despite the unprecedented volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in lockdowns around the world. Though marginal, the increase in volume reflects the resilience and flexibility of the global LNG market in 2020, a year which saw losses to global GDP of several trillion dollars as economies large and small struggled to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Demand in 2019 stood at 358 million tonnes. Global LNG prices hit a record low early in the year but ended the 12-month period at a six-year high as demand in parts of Asia recovered and winter buying increased against tightened supply. “LNG provided flexible energy which the world needed during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating its resilience and ability to power people’s lives in these unprecedented times,” said Maarten Wetselaar, Integrated Gas, Renewables and Energy Solutions Director at Shell. “Around the world countries and companies, including Shell, are adopting net-zero emissions targets and seeking to create lower-carbon energy systems. As the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, natural gas and LNG have a central role to play in delivering the energy the world needs and helping power progress towards these targets.” Natural gas emits between 45% and 55% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less than one-tenth of the air pollutants than coal when used to generate electricity.