Pakistan to ration natural gas

Dec. 20, 2011 at 9:18 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Natural gas consumers in Pakistan will start rationing supplies to control a potential shortfall ahead of the winter season, the government said.

Pakistani natural gas supplies fell 33 percent compared with last year. Rolling blackouts are common and the government has worked with gas consumers to limit consumption.

Fertilizer plants in the country will shut for a little more than two weeks while some industrial centers in the region will close for as long as seven days to conserve gas, the Platts news service reports.

The Pakistani Natural Resources Ministry warned that anyone defying rationing orders could be thrown in jail for up to 14 years or face a fine of about $112,000.

Islamabad has pressed for gas supplies from Iran though the so-called Peace Pipeline. Part of that project is built already in Iran though Western allies oppose any project that could bring an economic benefit to Iran.

A rival plan includes ferrying natural gas from Turkmenistan, though that option includes a pipeline through Afghanistan were security concerns are high.

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