Cheaper source of energy has become the most sought
after object not only amidst the developing economies but to the
developed world as well as it plays a key role for sustained economic
growth in today's world. Since power generation through thermal based
system in which costly fuel oil is required, a considerable amount of
power generation is being shifted from oil to cheaper fuels like gas,
coal, and wind powered energy. Countries like the US, Germany, France,
China etc have already gone to coal and wind powered electricity
Pakistan is not an exception and efforts are being
made for finding solution of costly power generation through finding
alternative energy resources. In this respect, "Alternative Energy
Resource Board" is also being constituted. Luckily, besides having
huge natural gas reserves, Pakistan also have coal reserves at a massive
scale in Thar region. Currently, in collaboration with friendly country
China efforts are being made to utilize the available coal for power
generation in Pakistan.
According to an estimate the Thar region has a
potential of over 17 billion tons of coal which can tremendously
facilitate Pakistan's economic goals in future. It is said that recent
exploration of 9 billion tons of coal reserves in the Thar region of
Sindh province could change the future economic landscape of Pakistan.
By the year 2010, Pakistan may face a shortfall of
5000 MW of electricity. The Thar coal can generate about 3000MW and help
meet the shortfall if the Lakhra coal is also utilized for power
generation. Might be able to generate an additional 300MW of
Coal might turn out to be the biggest source of
future power generation in Pakistan and would also be instrumental in
overcoming the country's difficulty in meeting the WTO conditionally and
competing in the world market by using cheaper power.
At present the country was using small percentage of
coal for generating electricity, whereas in Poland 96 per cent of power
was generated from coal fired system. Australia got 86 per cent of
energy from coal, USA 56 per cent, the UK 50 per cent while in India 60
per cent of energy came from coal.
A task force has been constituted under the personal
supervision of the Prime Minister while Chinese scientists are scouring
the area to come up with the best technique of economic utilization of
coal and power generation.
Thar coal area extended to over 9000 square
kilometers and reserves of more than 17.5 billion tons coal had been
estimated. However, the coal was not of the best variety and contained
too most moisture with a low heating value. This factor limits the
establishment of power generation plants in the coal mining area. Power
will be transmitted by means of interconnections and grid system. Plants
are also on the anvil to get power through gasification of Thar coal and
of its conversion to methane gas, which will condition its
transportation through huge pipelines.
Recently, the World Bank estimating Pakistan's
economic potentials has said that original recoverable gas reserves in
Pakistan are much more than official estimates of 42 trillion cubic feet
(TCF) which need to be explored and developed through hi-tech surveys
and negotiations with the local population. The Bank has asked the
government to negotiate a new revenue sharing ageement with tribal
leaders, the people at large in Balochistan besides the oil companies to
conduct petroleum exploration and production activities without law and
To achieve the target, a concerted effort should be
made to exploring strategic and more subtle traps which could add
substantial oil and gas reserves because most of the structural traps
have already been drilled. Attractive incentives should be introduced to
encourage the use of the advances in seismic acquisition and processing
techniques by the private sector.
The bank also called for carrying out promotional
surveys such as aero-magnetic, gravity and seismic, preferably through
joint ventures with the private sector to attract industry interest into
areas whose petroleum potential remains to be established.
Pakistan's original recoverable gas reserves have
increased from 31.2 tcf in 1992 to 41.9 tcf in 2002.
At present 160,000 sq. km of which 36,000 sq. in the
offshore, are under contract, there is still need to accelerate
exploration investments, given in particular the rising demand for gas.
The World Bank said analysis of the existing contract
revealed that the average government intake in Pakistan amounted to
45-50 per cent which was on the lower side by international standards,
but reasonable considering prospective, perceived political risk and
desireablity to attract investments.
The government has been advised to ensure consistency
and stability in gas producer pricing policies, so that new discoveries
are brought to the market with minimal delays and facilitate access to
foreign exchange for domestic companies having resources, capability and
track record to explore and develop gas resources.