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Pakistan Seeks LNG Imports on ‘Urgent Basis,’ Adviser Says

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan will seek imports of liquefied natural gas on an “urgent basis” as it struggles to overcome energy shortages that have crippled the economy.

“Pakistan can’t meet energy demands without LNG imports,” Asim Hussain, the government’s petroleum adviser, said today at a news conference in Islamabad. “LNG imports are the only short-term solution for economic survival.”

Power and gas shortages of eight to 16 hours a day have closed factories and caused violent street protests in Pakistan, which is facing its worst energy crisis. The country, traditionally self-sufficient in gas, was scheduled to start LNG imports in the fourth quarter before the Supreme Court canceled a contract with European companies. The government forecasts the economy will expand 2.5 percent in the year through June, slower than the original target of 4.5 percent.

The government-owned gas distribution companies will stop providing commercial connection for the next six months, said Hussain, whom Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appointed yesterday as his adviser to prepare a short-term plan to reduce energy shortages.

“We are going for 500 million cubic feet imports in the first phase,” he said. “We will go to the vendor who can do this for us in the shortest possible time, whether it’s through the single boring pipeline or through a floating storage and regasification unit.”

Rotterdam-based 4Gas BV and France’s GDF Suez SA were awarded a 20-year contract in February last year to supply 3.75 million metric tons of LNG annually. The court ordered a probe and canceled the contract after the government ignored the lowest bidder.

To contact the reporter on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at hanwar2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Naween Mangi at nmangi1@bloomberg.net

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