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Saving gas, improving productivity: fertiliser industry ignores ECC directives on efficiency audit




  • The fertiliser industry of the country has ignored the directives of the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) for efficiency audit of their plants, which would not only save gas utilised by fertiliser plants at subsidised rates but also improve productivity of the sector, it is learnt. 

    In the event that efficiency audit is carried out an estimated 300 million cubic feet daily (mmcfd) would be saved which would be enough to generate 1,500 MW of electricity, informed sources told this correspondent. According to reliable sources, the fertiliser industry of the country is at present consuming 818 mmcfd of gas out of total gas national production of 4.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd). 

    The Petroleum Ministry has repeatedly written letters to the Ministry of Industries for the ‘efficiency audit’ of fertiliser plants, but the sector has been able to dodge the officials for more than a year on various pretexts. The initial survey by the National Productivity Organisation (NPO) estimated that efficiency of fertiliser plants in the country was around 35 percent except for one modern unit established by Engro that was around 65 percent efficient. The fertiliser plants are consuming around 818 mmcfd of gas. 

    However, it was decided by the ECC that all the fertiliser plants would get complete energy audit from the NPO, and charges for this technical energy utilisation audit would be Rs 10 million for each unit. “But the main problem is that the fertiliser plants do not want to pay the prescribed fee, while action cannot be taken against them as the government does not want to annoy the key agriculture input sector,” said an official of the Petroleum Ministry. 

    Meanwhile, the Ministry of Water and Power has also suggested that efficiency audit of fertiliser plants was required to cap gas wastages, so that natural gas saved from fertiliser units can be supplied to power producers. It was agreed during the ECC meeting that gas would be supplied to efficient fertiliser plants units, and inefficient plants would be required to make necessary improvements. However, to escape possible gas curtailment the fertiliser plants have been evading the efficiency audit on various pretexts. 

    “A delegation of fertiliser sector led by Fauji Fertiliser at a meeting, held in February 2013, took the plea that NPO was not competent enough to conduct efficiency audit and demanded that the proof of their expertise be provided,” an official stated. The official added that strong will was required to enforce the ECC decision taken by the previous government and it was not yet clear what the priorities of new government would be. 

    Copyright Business Recorder, 2013

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