ENERGY INSECURITY

THE LATEST WORLD COAL RESERVE POSITION SHOWS PAKISTAN AS ALSO-RAN, WHICH IS QUITE DISAPPOINTING IN VIEW OF OUR CLAIM THAT THE COUNTRY HOLDS 185 BILLION TONS OF COAL.

SHAMSUL GHANI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
July 25 - 31, 20
11

While Pakistan faces no threat of food insecurity in near future, its energy position is fragile and vulnerable.

It is not that the country lacks energy resources. It has plenty of them. Proper energy planning and aggressive follow-up of resource utilization programs is what the country lacks. Our dependence on oil-based power generation has led us to the quagmire of economic downturn and social unrest. Although the planning commission's vision-2030 program aims at cutting this dependence down to just five percent by 2030, the government energy initiatives, if there are any, belie this estimate.

The program appears unrealistic on many other accounts too. Reducing dependence on generating hydropower - the cleanest and cheapest source of power generation - from the existing 33 percent to 20 percent is a bit confusing. Moreover, the hike in gas-based power generation from the existing 30 percent to 52 percent is preposterous especially in view of the ongoing gas shortage and fast depleting gas reserves which at the current rate of utilization can not last more than 20 years.

The worldwide US military initiative is unmistakably guided by world energy situation. The views of US economists on world and US energy scenario are, therefore, amply relevant to the developing economies like Pakistan. These views, if adapted to the home conditions, can be of great help in shaping a realistic energy policy. Alan Greenspan, the ex-Fed chairman and a US free market economist, has mentioned in his book The Age of Turbulence:

"Long-term shortages of gas and oil have inevitably stimulated renewed interest in the expansion of coal, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources, the most prominent of which are hydroelectric power from dams and the energy generated through the recycling of waste and by-products from industry and agriculture. Solar and wind power have proved economical in small-scale and specialized uses, but together account for only a tiny fraction of energy use. The United States has large reserves of coal, primarily dedicated to electric power generation. But, the burning of coal in power plants has been restrained by concerns about global warming and other environmental damage. Technology has already alleviated some of these concerns, and given the limited range of alternatives, coal is likely to remain a major fallback in the energy future of the United States."

World economists' unconditional preference for hydropower and somewhat restricted choice of coal-based power makes Pakistan an ideal economy to at least achieve energy security and, if possible, generate surplus power for export as well.

When viewed in this background, the Vision-2030 energy program would appear a thoughtless exercise of number crunching. Perhaps the commission has given up the hope of a large-scale hydropower generation buildup. This thought is highly pessimistic and damaging to country's economic growth. If the country is capable of producing 50,000 mw of hydropower, it must do so by building a network of smaller dams - perhaps much smaller than the politicized Kala Bagh dam. No doubt, Kala Bagh is a nightmare, yet we should not stop dreaming about building dams in the country.

PLANNING COMMISSION'S VISION-2030 ENERGY PROGRAM

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THERMAL

. OIL GAS COAL HYDEL NUCLEAR RENEWABLE TOTAL
Existing Capacity mix 6,400 5,940 160 6,460 400 180 19,540
Existing mix percentage 32.75 30.40 0.82 33.06 2.05 0.92 100
Addition
2010 160 4,860 900 1,260 - 700 27,420
2015 300 7,550 3,000 7,570 900 800 47,540
2020 300 12,560 4,200 4,700 1,500 1,470 72,270
2025 300 22,490 5,400 5,600 2,000 2,700 110,760
2030 300 30,360 6,250 7,070 4,000 3,850 162,590
End-2030 Total 7,760 83,760 19,910 32,660 8,800 9,700 162,590
End-2030 % 4.77 51.52 12.25 20.09 5.40 5.97 100

The world energy insecurity ensues from the fact that the world powers think that they have an inalienable as well as preferential right to use world energy resources, no matter where they are located.

Israel-Arab, Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the ongoing Middle East unrest are testimony to this weird ideology. Developing economies have fewer choices and those with meek energy resources have harder times ahead. The dominant world economic system aims at achieving consistently fast economic growth. The growth mania is eroding the world energy resource position and the greedy eyes of world powers are set on fast depleting resources.

Since the Middle East sits on a larger chunk of oil reserves, the intensity of political unrest is much greater in this region. Alan Greenspan makes a cruelly honest admission in the following words: "The burgeoning global economy devours vast amounts of energy. Despite the dramatic fall in the amount of oil, and more generally energy, consumed per dollar of world output, all credibly longer-term forecasts conclude that to continue on the path of world growth over the next quarter century at rates commensurate with those of the past quarter century will require between one-fourth and two-fifths more oil than we use today. Most of this oil will have to come from politically volatile regions because, as we have seen, that is where most of the readily extractable oil resides...I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

WORLD RESERVES POSITION 2010

(OIL: BILLION BARRELS; GAS: TRILLION CUBIC METER; COAL: BILLION TONS)

REGION PROVED OIL RESERVES % OF TOTAL PROVED GAS RESERVES % OF TOTAL PROVED COAL RESERVES % OF TOTAL
North America 74.3 5.4 9.9 5.3 245.0 28.5
South & Central America 239.4 17.3 7.4 4.0 12.5 1.4
Europe & Eurasia 139.7 10.1 63.1 33.7 304.6 35.4
Middle East 752.5 54.4 75.8 40.5 1.2 0.1
Africa 132.1 9.5 14.7 7.9 31.7 3.7
Asia Pacific 45.2 3.3 16.2 8.6 266.0 30.9
Of which Pakistan NA - 0.8 0.4 2.1 0.2
Total 1383.2 100 187.1 100 861 100
Source: British Petroleum Statistics 2011

The latest world coal reserve position shows Pakistan as also-ran, which is quite disappointing in view of our claim that the country holds 185 billion tons of coal. If our claims are valid, then it means we are sitting on 17.5 percent of world coal reserves with our share in the Asia Pacific region being as high as 40 percent. This issue was pointed out earlier but there is still no word from any government quarters regarding the acceptance of our claims by the world statistical bodies.