INTERNATIONAL COAL CONFERENCE

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
Islamabad

Aug 23 - 29, 2004

A one-day "International coal conference" first of its kind ever held in Pakistan was held in Islamabad last week primarily aimed to attract international investors to develop huge coal deposits in Pakistan for use as source of energy. The conference, which was organized by Noble Energy International Hong Kong in cooperation with the Ministry of Mines and Minerals, Government of Sindh and Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, was attended by delegates from Hong Kong, China, UK, Australia, Indonesia, India and Malaysia.

Participants were told by experts that Pakistan with an estimated 185 billion tonnes of coal deposits marked 7th in the world bestowed with this natural wealth. Out of these proven reserve about 184 billion tonnes are located in Sindh alone including 175 billion tonnes in Thar the biggest one place deposit in the world. Pakistan was using various sources for power generation but use of coal for this purpose is about one percent as against world average of 39 percent in 2004. Pakistan is now planning to use coal as a source of energy in a big way aiming to produce 1200 MW by 2010 and 40,000 MW by 2025 by coal fired power plants.

Inaugurating the conference, Federal Minister for Petroleum Mr. Nouraiz Shakoor said that this was a historic event, which will formally confirm the importance of coal in the energy sector in Pakistan, and will make evident interest of multinational enterprises in development and technology transfer of Thermal Power Projects.

The advent of third millennium has made it evident to all of us that Pakistan agro-based economy viz-a-viz WTO implementations and other global agreements, has little defense to offer. In every sector technology is taking great strides and those countries which are as yet under developed has no rays of hope unless some indigenous resources are available to make a considerable difference, he said adding that everyone knows that energy and particularly electrical energy is the exclusive force in most of the applications and technologies. It is the power which keeps the wheels of industry rolling day in and day out. Pakistan is extremely fortunate to have a huge reserve of coal in Thar Area, which would serve the Thermal Power requirements for centuries. It is my pleasure to note that a mega project of Thar Coal Development & Utilization is about to take its final shape after the hard work of all concerned.

Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources is committed to arrange all necessary resources for the development of natural reserves of strategic importance for the country and assure all concerned that we will continue to make objective and dedicated efforts for this project of vital importance for the country, the minister added.

Sindh Chief Minister, Dr. Arbab Ghulam Rahim said that a globally renowned group of energy sector M/s Noble Group of Hong Kong and its subsidiary Noble Energy has organized an International Conference in Pakistan, to deliberate on the strategic subject of energy production through utilization and development of Thar Coal Reserves. Availability of electrical power is of critical importance for the development and growth of industry and economy of any country. Economic growth entails the rationality of socio-economic development of the society. Pakistan is at a critical juncture of the history, it is the era of globalization where nations have to exhibit real strengths to maintain presence and importance in the global network of countries.

The tremendous interest shown by the Nobel Energy, Hong Kong and its representative in Pakistan M/s Pacific Chartering and Trading (Pvt) Ltd, is of paramount importance as it endorses the investment-oriented well balanced policies of the present government, he added.

Country Manager, Nobel Energy International, Hong Kong, Captian Rashid Abro said that almighty have bestowed us with immense natural resources and discovery of Thar Coal is one of them. Now it is our duty to make the best use of it so that fruit of this miraculous gift could be evenly distributed among various strata of populations. Today many people would not be able to imagine what difference this could make in the business, industry and social sector developments. Government is certainly aware of the far-reaching impacts it could make and therefore, is employing all possible resources for the development of Thar Coal reserve.

The objective of the conference as stated by the organizers was to highlight the business and investment opportunities in this area. Major objectives are:

* To deliberate on development & utilization of Thar Coal.

* To discuss use of coal as fuel in cement industry.

* To discuss use of coal as fuel in other industries.

Conference aims to promote direct foreign investment by information dissemination and interaction of technocrats, policy makers and investors of local and international business circles.

A number of foreign delegates attended the conference besides leading industrialists and technocrats from Pakistan. The learned speakers enlightened the audience with importance of this discovery and possible business & investment opportunities.

Importance of indigenous fuel in achieving the objective of self-reliance, need no elucidation. Therefore Govt. of Sindh and Govt of Pakistan are vigorously perusing the schemes related with infrastructure development in the area.

Importance of this project is further highlighted by the fact that this conference is being organized by the leading investment and thereafter availability of power at much economical rates will have profound impact on industrial, agricultural and social development of Sindh and Pakistan.

The proven coal deposits in Pakistan are estimated as follows:

PROVINCE WISE

(Billion tonnes)

a) Punjab

0.257

b) Balochistan

0.196

c) NWFP

0.082

d) Sindh

184.123

SINDH (COALFIELD-WISE)

a) Lakhra, district Dadu

1.328

b) Sonda, district Thatta

7.112

c) Metting-Jhimpir, distt. Thatta

0.161

d) Dadin

0.016

e) Thar

175.506

Total

184.123

In Pakistan, nearly 80% coalmines are being operated by small mine owners. Average annual coal production is 4.5 million tonns, out of which more than 90% is consumed in brick-klin industry. The share of coal in overall energy mix during the last five decades declined from 68% in 1948 to 35% in 1958 and 5% in 2002. The share of coal in electricity generation as on December, 2002 in various coal producing countries including Pakistan is as under: -

NAME OF COUNTRY

SHARE OF COAL IN ELECTRIC POWER GENERATION (%)

USA

52

UK

58

Australia

77

Germany

52.5

China

78

India

77

S. Africa

88

Poland

96

Czech Rep.

72

Greece

67

Denmark

47

Netherland

28

World Average

39

The coal industry suffered a severe set-back in competition with the cheaper and subsidized sources of energy, which discouraged the use of coal for industrial purposes. Due to this situation, a number of chemical and cement plants operating on coal were converted to natural gas in late 60's and subsequently to furnace oil. Now, under the present socio-economic scenario of energy requirements, there are compelling factors to maximize energy reliance on coal and its utilization.