29 - Sep 11, 2011

Pakistan has serious energy problems. There are increasing needs for stable and reliable electricity in Pakistan due primarily to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation and also because of increasing population. Electricity consumption rose from about 4.6TWH in 1980 to roughly ten times this value by the year 2010.

Energy exists in various forms and it can be transformed from one form to another. When this happens, the total amount of energy after transformation must be equal to the initial amount of energy. This phenomenon is known as the principles of conservation of energy which state that energy can neither be created nor destroyed (Garba and Bashir, 2002).

Energy can be in various forms such as mechanical energy, light, heat energy, electricity energy, chemical energy etc. The challenge of future energy security for mankind is both a global and an international issue.

Humans daily devour the energy equivalent of about 200million barrels of oil, but much of the energy comes from coal, oil and gas and nuclear fuel (Ejike, 2007).

Most part of Pakistan lies within humid tropical region and as such, the country is blessed with abundant sunshine. Measurements have shown that Pakistan receives about 5,000TWH of energy from the sun daily.

This means that 2.5TWH of electricity would be produced or the equivalent of 4.6million barrels of oil per day, according to the World Bank.

It is recognised that gathering the solar radiation and providing it in useful form when needed at competitive costs is the principal challenge of solar energy technology. This fact is probably the reason for the country's inability to harness the abundant solar power.


Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) discovered huge deposits of coal in 1922 at Thar during the research program, assisted by United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Exploration carried out over 356.5 sq. km. by drilling 219 holes, proved 9.715 billion tones coal deposit.

Thar coalfield is spread over an area of more than 9,000 sq. km. and possesses 175.506 billion tones of coal.

It is one of the largest coalfields of the World and sufficient to meet fuel requirements of over a hundred years, if the basic infrastructure is established. The province of Sindh is endowed with huge coal deposits, estimated at 184.123 billion tones. Out of which, Thar coal deposit comprises of 175. 506 billion tones, which constitutes around 99 per cent of total coal deposits of the country. The coal deposits of Pakistan (province-wise) and Sindh (coal field-wise) are as under:


Lakhra, district Dadu 1.328
Sonda-Jherruck, district Thatta 7.112
Jhimpir-Metting, district Thatta 0.161
Badin 0.016
Thar 175.506
Total 184.123
Source: Geological Survey of Pakistan

Pakistan stands to gain hugely from exploitation of its coal resources. A breakdown of the estimated value of energy resources highlights that oil has estimated value of six billion dollars, gas 25 billion dollars whereas coal has an estimated value of 5,540 billion dollars.

The countries that have shown interest and can be potential partners in the development of Thar coal are China, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, and United State of America.


The studies, conducted so far, show that the Thar coalfield rests directly on relatively shallow, rifted basement rocks of late Pre-Cambrian age. The area is completely covered by sand dunes. On the basis of drill holes data, four subsurface units have been identified.

Dune Sand (Recent) 50-90 meters thick
Alluvial Deposits (sub-recent) 11-127 meters thick
Bara Formation (Paleocene) 50-125 meters thick
Basement Complex (Pre-Cambrian) Granite Rocks
Source: Geological Survey of Pakistan 2007


The coal resources of the Thar coalfield, based on the exploratory drilling of 217 holes up to June, 2001 with a cumulative drill depth of 51,076 meters, have been assessed as under:

Measured 2,700
Indicated 9,395
Inferred 50,706
Hypothetical 112,705
Total 175,506
Thar Coalfield (Investigated Blocks)

At present, investigations at Thar coalfield are carried out and it has been divided in four blocks which are mentioned below along with deposit in each block.



Block-1 122 41 3,566
Block-2 55 43 1,584
Bock- 3 99.5 41 2,006
Block-4 80 42 2,599
Sub-total 356.5 167 9,715
Rest of coalfield 8,643.5 50 165,791
Total 9,000 217 175,506
Source: Geological Survey of Pakistan

During the execution of the project (1993-2001) close-spaced exploratory drilling, geological, geotechnical and geophysical logging, coal petrography, chemical analysis of selected coal samples, palynological investigations, basinal studies and geological modeling in four specific tracts namely Sinhar Vikian-Varivi (Block-1), Singharo-Bhitro (Block-II), Saleh jo Tar (Block-III) and Sonalba (Block-VI) and the area southeast of Islamkot were carried forward, and in-situ gasification, are planned to be carried out during 2001-2002.

The aim was to establish proven coal reserves of 500 million tonnes in each block to cater the need of four thermal power generation units of 1,000 MW capacity each for 30 years.

The thickest Thar coal seam is present between 150 and 203 meters depth in the four investigated blocks. The maximum thickness of the seam is 22.81 meters. The cumulative coal thickness in the blocks varies between 7.15 and 36.00 meters. The thickness of overburden varies form 114 to over 200 meters.

Block-I 137.04 178.72
Block-II 123.80 164.70
Block-III 114.00 203.02
Block-IV 117.30 165.50

In China and India where coal is still the world's largest source of thermal power, coal is required to answer the environmental concerns surrounding its use. Steps have been taken to improve the environmental credentials of coal, not only through direct government legislation but also through the development and introduction of cleaner coal technologies.


International crude oil price is expected to remain high. Since Pakistan has no other alternative except to make use of coal obligatory by process industries, the government must announce a comprehensive coal policy immediately on the basis of report prepared by the Experts Advisory Cell. The policy should address the following points:

- Duty free import of required plant and machinery
- Establishment of coal processing and distribution companies
- Allocation of special funds for exploitation of Thar coal