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Plans for setting up coal briquetting plant underway

The setting up of a coal briquetting plant of 315,000 tons annual capacity is being considered in connection with the commercialization of coal briquetting technology developed by Karachi Laboratory of PCSIR.

The production, however, would meeting only 6 percent of market capacity, according to PCSIR sources. The US based M/s Charles Bliss and Moselay has promised technical and other support to maintain the supply of coal briquettes and to study its market evaluation before going ahead for the commercial plant for which a profit sharing formula would be worked out on a 5-year lease basis.

'Fish output can be raised 10 times'

Fish industry is the most profitable industry in the country and increased public participation can enhance its production upto 10 times.

Pakistan has the most modern technology and trained staff in the field, besides the biggest irrigation system in the world.

It has huge potential for fisheries and aquaculture development, only public awareness is needed to further exploit this potential, said Dr Muhammad Nazir Bhatti, DG Fisheries.

100 fruit varieties introduced to increase output

More than one hundred varieties of indigenous and imported fruit cultivars and rootstocks have been introduced in Balochistan for fruit farmers to produce export-oriented fruit.

Five varieties of vegetables have also been introduced in the province. Imported varieties of fruit introduced in the province are the ones from the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and other European countries.

These new varieties include 25 of plum, 18 each of cherry and nectarine, 17 of peach, 12 of apricots, 8 of apple and 4 of almonds. New varieties of vegetables evolved and released to the vegetable growers are those of onion, spinach, tomato, eggplant and radish.

Oil output stands at 55,703 bpd

The country's average crude oil production at the end of third quarter 1998-99 was 55,703 barrels per day against 55,992 barrels per day during the comparable period of the preceding year.

During this period 20,770 barrels per day was produced in northern region and 34,934 barrels in southern region compared with 21,964 and 34,028 barrels per day respectively during the comparable period of 1997-98, official sources said.

According to sources, the recoverable reserves of crude oil as on March 31, 1999 were estimated at 238 million barrels in the country.

As the country's oil demand is rising by 7 percent a year, the sources said, the oil and gas exploration activities are gaining momentum in the country.

The OGDCL recently discovered substantial amount of oil and gas reserves in Sadqal area some 45 km south of Islamabad near Fateh Jang, district Attock.

According to the sources, the well flowed 2,500 barrels per day of oil 40 degree API gravity and 18.5 million cubic feet of gas per day half inch choke with well head flowing pressure of 4,600 PSL.

The work on pipeline has started in Sadqal area and normal production from Sadqal well No 5 will be started within days which will help enhance the country's oil production, sources added.

Sources said the transport sector has been the largest consumer of oil and oil products accounting for 47.5 percent of total consumption during July-March 1998-99 followed by power sector (32.0 percent), industry (13.5 percent), household (3.3 percent), and agriculture (1.45 percent).

Chounsa — largest grown mango variety

Chounsa mango has emerged as the largest-grown variety in southern Punjab as this variety covers an area of 82,807 acres of orchard-land, out of the total mango acreage of 183,002 in three divisions—Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. This shows that the variety is grown on 45.24 per cent of the total area under mango acreage.

Provincial agriculture department has conducted a thorough survey of mango orchards in the province besides taking information about its variety-wise area and output and other pertinent data.

Fertilizer industry to absorb gas price hike

Fertilizer industry is likely to absorb the gas price hike as cheap imports leave a little room for retail price increase, industry sources said on Thursday.

"Our per bag cost of production has increased by Rs 15 to Rs 30 per bag, but at this stage I think it will be very difficult for companies to pass on this impact to consumers," one urea producer said.

The government, through an SRO dated July 13, has increased the feedstock gas price for old capacities (pre- 1993) from Rs 23.39 per mcf to Rs 40.46 per mcf. The feedstock gas price for new capacities has not changed as it has been fixed at Rs 9.75 per mcf up to year 2003.

Economic activities have started picking up: Dar

The Federal Minister for Finance and Commerce, Ishaq Dar, on Thursday asserted that the economic activities have started picking up in the country that is evident from sharp growth in imports.

Addressing a post-Trade Policy press conference here on Thursday, he said that during the past four months the imports have shown impressive growth, putting stagnant economic activities back on track.

Despite critical economic situation following nuclear tests, the minister said, the country has attained 3.1 percent growth in its GDP that is close to 3.3 percent average GDP growth in the SAARC countries.

He said that economic turmoil in the Far East compounded with recession in Japan, nuke tests-led economic sanctions and unit value depreciation have caused damage to exports from Pakistan in 1998-99.