NATURAL RESOURCES OF PAKISTAN

DR.S.M.ALAM
Feb 16 - 22, 2009

The Al-Mighty Allah is the originator of creation. He has created every thing whatever on earth, sky and in between them. In the Holy Quran, the name of Earth has been mentioned 13 times and that of Sea 32 times. If we calculate the percentage of earth and sea by adding these two figures and dividing the total by the figures of earth and sea separately, it will come to 28.88 and 71.11 percent respectively. The same ratio of earth and water has been scientifically proven. 

It is an established fact that all the natural resources created by Allah for human beings are on and inside the earth and in the sea. Every country in the world has its own natural resources. The natural resources are landsides which may be mountainous, hilly, including glaciers, forests, animal, and birds. Others are oil, gas, minerals, nuclear minerals, gemstones, coal, water of sea & river, fishery, offshore and onshore crude oil, sun light, rainfall, wind, and atmospheric gases.

There are at present 192 countries which have been enrolled as member of United Nations Organization. With exception of a few, many of these countries have land, water and sea. It means they have their own natural resources. It is not necessary that all the natural resources can be explored easily. It needs money and manpower for exploration. In this perception, let us examine the natural resources of our country.

The natural resources of Pakistan are: land (arid and semi-arid), mountains like K2, snow, hilly land, glaciers, mountainous animals, hilly forests in the northern parts and very low in the south, oil, gas, water (both fresh and sea), coal, various types of minerals , lime stones, micas, nuclear minerals, gemstones, and marbles.

Regarding its location on the globe, Pakistan occupies the North-eastern part of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent between 23∞ and 27∞ north latitude and 62∞ and 75∞ east longitude. This location is measured from the Equator of 0 degree towards north. The length, and width, it covers, is approximately 1400 kilometers and 500 kilometers respectively. The total geographical area of Pakistan is 79.61 million hectares (about 197 million acres), of which only 25% or 21.82 million hectares are currently under cultivation. Out of the total land area of Pakistan, the total land area of Punjab is 20.6 mha, out of which 54% or 11.04 mha are cultivated.

The total land area of Balochistan is 34.7 mha, out of which only 4% or 1.4 mha are cultivated. The total land area of NWFP comprises of 10.2 mha, out of which nearly 10% or 1.93 mha are cultivated.

The vast areas of country generally own fertile soil, a favorable climate and with the world largest elaborated canal irrigation network. Rainfall in this area is seasonal and generally varies from 50-900 mm with an annual average of 250 mm. Pakistan is basically an agricultural country and thus agriculture is the backbone of the economy and the mainstay of our national economy. It contributes about 25% to the GDP, employs about 50% of the total labor force, provides livelihood directly to 70% of the rural population, and earns about 60% total value of exports.

Our farming is based mainly on the quantum of irrigation carried out from canal originating from rivers, and rain waters. The country grows both major and minor crops such as wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, maize, bajra, jowar, barley, vegetables, and fruits on fertile lands by irrigation network of 40,000 miles throughout the country. .

Pakistan has significant oil, gas, coal, mineral ore deposits as well as alternate solar and wind potential. The country has oil reserves of over 310 million barrels as of January 2006, and produces 68, 000 barrel, and gas reserves of 750 BCM. The oil and gas are the two major components of energy resources. Energy is the most fundamental ingredient for the development and growth of the economy, and its adequate supply is a pre-requisite to generate economic activities. There is a possibility of exploring oil and gas from the offshore sea of the country.

The majority of produced oil comes from reserves located in the southern half of the country. The country's two gas distribution companies in north SNGPL and in south SSGPL have been investing over 200 million US$ a year to increase the capacity of the existing distribution network of 80,000 kilometers.

However, still only 20% of the population has access to natural gas. Natural gas is found whenever oil and gas occur together. Natural gas largely contains 80% methane gas along with small quantities of ethane, propane, butane, carbon dioxide, and occasionally helium. Gas is a prime source of energy in Pakistan as it meets 65% of the natural energy requirements.

The share of gas in fuelling the economy is followed by oil which has 29.4% in energy mix. The other minor sources are hydro providing 12%, coal 5%, and nuclear only 1.2 %. Gas is the prime mover of Pakistan's economy. Natural gas is piped from gas wells for use as fuels in the homes, industries, institution, and into thermal electric power stations in the different parts of the country. The biggest consumer of gas is the power sector which uses it for generating electricity throughout the country. Nearly 50% of the gas fuels are used in the power sector. Industry uses another 20%. Fertilizer industry uses 16% as feed stock for producing urea. The domestic consumption is only 18% followed by commercial use of 2% and CNG for cars amounts 10%.

There are 173 gas fields in the country, of them 140 are located in Sindh, 22 in Punjab, 7 in Balochistan, and 4 in NWFP.

Pakistan has been gifted with rich coal reserves - estimated to be over 185 billion tons, having production of only 3.31 million tons and with a consumption of 4.04 million tons. This reserve could be used for production of electricity at a much cheaper cost and to overcome the power shortage that is unleashing long and dark hours of electricity load shedding and badly hurting industrial production.

The Thar coal field in Sindh province has huge estimated deposits of 184 billion tons of coal and quality of its coal is of superior quality. Coal will help for the generation of electricity. Other provinces have also large deposits of coal mine. Coal-fired power plants burn coal produces heat for changing water to steam. The steam turns the blades of a turbine which spines generator to produce electricity.

Coal is an important source of raw material for example for cement industry and several chemical products can be produced from coal. Refined coal tar is used in the manufacturing of a range of chemicals such as pitch, creosote oil, dyes, nylon naphthalene, phenol, pyridine, benzene, ethylene, propylene, polyesters, plastics, synthesis gas, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, ammonia gas. Coke ovens are used in the manufacturing of ammonia salts, nitric acid and various types of fertilizers. Coal is also used in coal gasification and in this process coal is converted to gaseous products by reaction with air, oxygen, steam or mixture. The resulting gas can be used as fuel gas or as synthesis gas for other chemical products

Pakistan possesses immense potential to harness unlimited solar and wind energy. During the last two decades Pakistan has developed its potential in photovoltaic (PV) technology, which is suitable for small power requirements. There is possibility to add 500 MW power through alternate energy resources in the next few years. Pakistan has coastal belt of 1046 kilometers from Sindh to Bolachistan. Due to coastal belt of 1045 kilometers long, the country can manage to produce nearly 800,000 tons of fishes annually.