EghtesadOnline: Residential gas consumption rises in the cold seasons and as a result gas supply to power plants declines, an Energy Ministry spokesman said.
“If homes do not reduce gas consumption there will be power outages,” Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi was quoted as saying by the Energy Ministry news portal Paven.
Almost all urban homes are primarily heated with natural gas. In recent years infrastructure has been expanding to supply piped gas to most rural areas not excluding the rugged mountain regions where winter temperatures fall to below 10-15 degrees Celsius.
In the cold season gas consumption jumps as homes turn on the heating systems and the priority is to supply enough gas to the huge residential sector, he said.
“High and rising home consumption means less gas sent to power plants,” the official said, adding that under the conditions electricity supply faces problems. “However, if there are power outages in some regions it will be temporary.”
Rajabi Mashhadi said that in case of cuts in gas supply to power stations “We cooperate with the Oil Ministry in providing power plants with the second feedstock that is liquid fuel. But the delivery of this type of fuel is difficult”.
Liquid fuel, namely diesel and mazut, is transported by tankers unlike supplies via pipelines. Problems arise with timely tanker delivery when snow falls leading to delays and disruptions in sending feedstock to power producers.
“The electricity network so far is stable and we hope this trend will continue in winter.”
Although some power stations have no option but to use mazut instead of gas in winter, it is not what the plant managers prefer simply because mazut is not suitable for the plants as it puts machinery and equipment under strain, increases maintenance costs and water consumption and hinders efficient output.
Most thermal plants are natural-gas based and feeding them liquefied fuels has long-term adverse effects. Burning diesel and mazut, especially in winter, along with temperature inversion, increases greenhouse gas emissions and worsens air pollution.
As more liquid fuels are burnt, more toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere making a bad pollution situation worse.
According to the National Iranian Gas Company, daily gas consumption in the country reached 584 million cubic meters at the weekend.
“Daily gas consumption increased by 40 mcm compared to 10 days ago and we predict that it will reach 600 mcm per day next week when the mercury falls,” head of dispatching department at the NIGC said.
“Last year, the highest gas consumption was in mid-February when it reached a record of 616 mcm a day,” Mohammadreza Joulaee said.
Noting that 900 mcm of gas is processed every day, most of which is for home use, he said: "Our gas consumption is higher than the global average,” and stressed that households need to do more to reduce consumption.
While average global gas consumption has risen 1.65% in the past three decades, Iran's demand for the fuel has jumped by a prohibitive 4.2%.
Fireplaces waste a large amount of heat and radiators are in the next place for heat loss. People can cut consumption by balancing the temperature in their houses, he added.
NIGC has managed to boost gas production, especially in the giant South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf, to meet demand of the increasing number of power plants. Nevertheless, household demand was so high last winter that gas delivery to power plants was cut by half to 100 mcm/d.