Gas shortage exposes Pakistan's energy crisis
ISLAMABAD (AP) - It has become a familiar sight across Pakistan in recent weeks: Long lines of cars and minibuses snaking for hundreds of yards as their frustrated drivers wait to fill up their tanks with natural gas.
The reason for the long lines is a pricing dispute involving the government and the Supreme Court that has caused many station owners to shut down their gas supply.
The crisis is a symptom of a much larger problem destined to cause drivers even greater pain in the future: Pakistan's demand for natural gas, and other forms of energy, is quickly outstripping supply.
"We have this problem that is growing bigger and bigger every year," said Khurram Husain, a Pakistani business journalist who's been following the natural gas crisis closely. "Each of the big consumers of natural gas is now vying with each other." The government of former President Pervez Musharraf began promoting the use of compressed natural gas, or CNG, in private vehicles nearly a decade ago. The idea was to reduce the money the government spent on buying oil internationally and instead rely on Pakistan's domestic natural gas reserves.