A major power outage occurred this week in the form of a power breakdown, which lasted for 8,000 megawatts, according to the energy minister. This has deprived large swaths of southern Pakistan—including Karachi, the country’s financial capital—of all electricity.
The Ministry of Energy attributed the breakdown to an accidental fault in the transmission system.
“Several power plants in the south are tripping in phases due to an accidental fault in the country’s southern transmission system. As a result, there have been disruptions in the supply of electricity to the country’s south,” the ministry said in a tweet following reports of power outages.
Electricity minister, Khurram Dastgir Khan, was hopeful at a press conference today that power would be restored to the whole country by tonight. He made the announcement that power had been returning to parts of southern Punjab which is still catching up from severe damage from this week’s storms.
He shared the preliminary findings of the tentative breakdown that led to the emotional response:“This morning at 9:16am, our two 500kv lines in the south — Karachi — there was a fault in both of them. I am not calling it an accident yet, because an inquiry has yet to be conducted. […] there was a fault in them and they fell, as a result the country’s southern region saw an electricity blackout.
“Our first priority was to isolate Karachi from it, and we were successful in doing so and we isolated Karachi from it by 9:45. By isolate, I mean that the 1,000MW that we provide to Karachi daily, was cut. But KE’s system is independently operational and is supplying electricity to [parts of] the city.”
As a result of the two power lines with the fault, power outages were experienced in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Quetta. Parts of Multan and Faisalabad also saw minor disruptions.
— Ministry of Energy (@MoWP15) October 13, 2022
Dastgir said he was personally monitoring the progress of the restoration.
“As a result of this breakdown, a large part of our power plants are out of our system, around 8,000MW, of which we have restored 4,700MW,” he said.
“Electricity has been completely restored in Multan and Faisalabad. There is an issue in Hyderabad, but we have restored Sepco partially till Dadu. There is also [power] connectivity in Shikarpur, and because of partial connections in Sukkur. Qesco has been restored till Sibi.”
پاور اپڈیٹ2: وقت صبح 1130 بجے 13 اکتوبر
وزارتِ توانائی کی اطلاعات کے مطابق ملک کے ٹرانسمیشن سسٹم میں فالٹ سے مختلف شہروں میں بجلی فراہمی میں تعطل پیش آیا ہے۔ کے ای سے منسلک علاقوں میں بھی فراہمی متاثر ہونے کی خبر موصول ہوئی ہیں_ (1/2)
— Imran Rana, Spokesperson, K-Electric (@imranrana21) October 13, 2022
Three teams of workers were in the field after a distress call went out. One team was responsible for reconnecting cut-off conductors and repairing any damage that had been done, while another team assisted in the investigation. The third team of workers was there to submit a report in time for ministry officials to review their findings and make a final decision.
“Our biggest success is that we prevented a breakdown in the north. We limited the shutdown to the south through timely reconnection … the north was completely saved from the shutdown.
There are reports of multiple outages from different parts of the city. We are investigating the issue and will keep this space posted.
— Imran Rana, Spokesperson, K-Electric (@imranrana21) October 13, 2022
“We are trying to completely restore the system between maghrib and isha,” he said.
“It is taking time. The power plants that were shut down will take hours to restart. These include coal plants, Thar coal plants and nuclear plants in Karachi, wherever there has been tripping, plants are being restarted according to their technical specifications.
“We expect that those plants will start production in the next few hours, and as I said, we will completely restore the system between 7-8pm. Our priorities at present are [the restoration of power in] Karachi and Quetta and then Hyderabad too.”
He said the tripping developed near Karachi and moved northward. “There are two lines in Karachi’s south — NK1 and Jamshoro — there was a fault in them simultaneously.
But he had some good news for the residents of Karachi after cutting off power—power was being transmitted from the national grid, and it wouldn’t be impacted. “When the plants will be restarted, 1,000MW supply will be restored [to the city].”
The minister refused to confirm that human error was the cause of the mistake until he receives the inquiry team’s report.“When the inquiry team’s report is received, if we have to take disciplinary action in its light, we will,” he added.
“We have to find the actual cause, whether it was an accident or there was another reason.”
High-level committee formed to probe outage
The Ministry for Power had a high-level inquiry committee to pinpoint the cause of the partial breakdown and assess what needed to be done about it.
Sources claim that Muhammad Mustafa, the general manager of NTDC in Lahore, will head the committee investigating the blackout. He will be joined by Anwar-ul-Haq Ahmed Khan and Muhammad Ijaz Khan who have also been appointed to the committee. Furthermore, Muhammed Zakaria — who has been partnering with Habib Bank Limited for last three years — has been excluded from this assignment and given other tasks.
The committee stated they will be requiring that departments find the root cause of the default and determine what caused it, and also verify just how much was done to make sure this didn’t happen.
If a committee report has not been submitted within four days, it will be ordered by the committee as well.
Senate panel issues summons for KE CEO
The Senate’s Zakat and Ushr Committee on Power warrants for the arrest of K-Electric CEO Moonis Alvi. The committee will take next steps, including summoning him to the next session, when it convenes on December 18th.
“Who is he? A gangster? What is this behavior,” Senator Saifullah Abro, the committee’s chairman, said in a meeting on Thursday.
From the start, he said that time had passed and no agreement had been reached.
The committee expressed anger over the fact that Dastagir was not present at the meeting, and they paid attention to recent events in France, where there has been a recent power breakdown.
He observed that the NTDC had failed to provide adequate reasons for the power lapse. To this, officials of the power ministry said: “The southern parts of the country have been plunged into darkness.
“But sharing details [of the outage] will spread more panic,” they added.
KE says electricity in Karachi to restores within few hours
Earlier today, K-Electric spokesperson Imran Rana confirmed to InPakistan that the utility had received reports of “multiple outages” in Karachi.
“We are investigating the issue and will keep this space posted,” he said.
In an update posted around 11:45am, he confirmed that the suspension in electricity supply was due to a fault in the southern transmission system. The Ministry of Energy explained that the problem stemmed from a heat wave.
Work startes to restore the supply and it takes around 5 hours before the water is completely restored.
In Karachi, reports of power outages were received from neighborhoods near Rashid Minhas Road, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Liaquatbad C-1 Area, Federal B Area’s block 11, 12 and 13, Nazimabad’s block 3 and 4, Kharadar, Lyari, Old City Area, Malir Halt, Rafah-i-Aam Society and Millenium Mall.