The government would soon award contacts for
undertaking study of remaining three geological zones of Thar coal
A Chinese mining and power generation company is
currently carrying out detailed studies on one geological zone for
setting up 1000 mw coal-fired power plant at mine site in Thar.
In order to develop Thar coal field having huge
coal deposits, the government has also established Thar Coal Authority
to accelerate the work on the feasibility study of 1.75 billion tons
coal reserves to determine economic viability of related projects.
In this connection, the government seems determined
to go ahead with an aggressive policy for focusing on coal mining and
encourage modern use of this alternative cheaper fuel for power,
cement and other processing industries.
The industries in developed countries, including
the USA, China and Australia, depend upon coal-based energy from 50 to
70 per cent.
Exploration of the oil and gas sector is another
area attracting foreign investment in Pakistan. During past 6 months,
the government granted 10 Concession licenses to exploration companies
which attracted $46 million investment in the petroleum sector during
In order to speed up exploration activity in this
sector, the government is considering more incentives including
congenial atmosphere so that the investors could concentrate for rapid
development in these projects. Hopefully, these steps would help
increasing exploration and production in the oil and gas sector.
Another significant step, which is under active
consideration of the government, is to privatize the public sector
organizations dealing with the oil and gas business. In this
connection, the privatization process of government units is going
ahead according to the program and has received tremendous response
from the international investors. The sale of PSO, the largest oil
marketing company of the country, is almost ready and the change of
hands in the management is expected to take place at the earliest.
Under the well thoughtout plan to replace oil with
the natural gas consumption, accelerated efforts are being made for
development of the new gas discoveries to augment the gas supply for
industrial and power generation consumption.
In this regard, an additional 1000 million cubic
feet gas per day would be made available after development of new
wells by the end of this year. The focus of this additional supply of
natural gas will be the power sector. It is expected that this
additional supply will help converting power plants being run on oil
into gas which would also help saving $1.5 billion per annum on
account of import of furnace oil.
Another major development in the natural gas sector
is the preparation of the feasibility report of the cross border gas
pipeline project worth $2.5 billion. This feasibility report is
expected to be ready by September this year.
Steering Committee of this cross border gas
pipeline project, comprised of the three countries i.e. Pakistan,
Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, recently met in Manila and agreed upon
the methodology and time-table presenting by the consulting company
which is carrying out the techno-economic feasibility study for the
project. The ground breaking of this project is likely to take place
early next year and take about 2.5 year's time to get ready for supply
of gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. This project is going to be an
international event in the energy sector and sure to open doors for a
number of down stream projects related to natural gas. This project is
going to have its economic impact in the entire region.
Although, India which is one of the potential
buyers of this huge quantity of gas has expressed its willingness to
participate in this project, yet there is no problem of the buyers or
consumers of the natural gas otherwise. Hence, participation of India
in this project does not matter to a great extent and the project
would go ahead according to plan, sources said.
This cross border gas pipeline originating from
Ashgabat to Pakistan would transport up to 30 billion cubic meters of
natural gas per annum.
Once this pipeline project starts operation,
experts in the energy sector feel that it would open a number of other
international projects and enhance regional economic activity. They
cited the example of another pipeline project that is to take its
route from Iran to India through Pakistan. As soon as the work on
Turkmenistan-Pakistan gas pipeline proceeds ahead, it would naturally
pave the way for Iran pipeline project.
Another feasibility report to bring natural gas
from Qatar to Pakistan has already been completed and is likely to
attract international investors. This pipeline is likely to terminate
at the newly developing port city of Gwadar. Since massive industrial
and power generation in that new port city is in the store, gas would
be the best option as an alternative fuel for power generation and
other industrial purposes.
This international activity in the energy sector
indicates that the next 2-3 years are highly significant in the
overall economic growth of the country through development of the
energy sector in this region.