Power failed across Pakistan on Monday (January 23) morning after a breakdown in its national grid. Power was out in all major cities including Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar, media reports said.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy tweeted that at 7.34 am (a little after 8 am in India) there was a “widespread breakdown” in the grid. “According to preliminary reports, the system frequency of the National Grid decreased at 7:34 am today. There was a widespread breakdown in the power system. System maintenance work is progressing rapidly,” the tweet said, according to a Google translation from the Urdu.
Power minister Khurrum Dastagir told Geo TV channel that a frequency variation was reported in the southern part of the country between the cities of Jamshoro and Dadu when systems were turned on on Monday morning, Reuters reported.
“There was a fluctuation in voltage and the systems were shut down one by one,” Dastagir said.
How bad is the situation?
According to Dastagir, “This is not a major crisis,” and some grids in the country had already been restored. “I can assure you that power will be fully restored across the country within the next 12 hours,” Dawn quoted the Minister as saying.
The Energy Ministry tweeted mid-morning that “The restoration of grid stations has been started from Warsak and Islamabad in the last one hour. A limited number of grids of Ply Company and Peshawar Supply Company have been restored.”
Who has been impacted?
DawnNewsTV reported outages in large parts of Pakistan, including Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, and Lahore. K-electric, the Karachi-based power utility company, said the countrywide breakdown had affected power supply in Karachi, but restoration was under way.
Three transmission lines had tripped in Balochistan, Dawn reported, quoting a spokesperson from the Quetta Electric Supply Company. “This has resulted in a massive power outage across Balochistan,” the spokesperson, Muhammad Afzal, said.
What is the general power situation like in Pakistan?
Pakistan has been facing widespread shortages of power for long, and worst-case scenarios project the crisis to last for several years at least. The summer of 2022 saw the crisis hit a peak, with long nationwide power cuts. The Daily Times reported in early June that Karachi was experiencing outages going up to 15 hours, while Lahore was without power for nearly 12 hours.
For decades, investments in the power sector have been flat or have declined as percentage of Pakistan’s GDP. Most power plants in the country run on imported fuel, and the global supply shock as a result of the water in Ukraine and the post-pandemic demand surge hit them hard. Pakistan’s energy import costs went through the roof as fuel prices rose and the Pakistani rupee tanked against the strengthening dollar.