Conversion of power plants to coal to save $5 billion per annum

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) said on Tuesday government should push power companies using furnace oil to switch to coal driven low prices, stability and vast supplies for years to come.

Coal is the cheapest and the most common fuel used to produce electricity and heat in the world, its share in worlds energy mix has hit record high with 5.4 per cent increase, it said.

With 1004 billion tonnes of known coal reserves left on earth and global consumption estimated at 9.98 billion tonnes per annum by 2030, Pakistan can become a major player with 175 billion tonnes of coal, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

Thar coal is sufficient to meet our fuel requirements for centuries and help export electricity to regional countries opening door for prosperity but it remained largely ignored, she said.

Speaking to business community, she said that we are paying a very heavy price for running power plants on furnace oil and natural gas while the slow pace of the governments decision to convert some the furnace oil based power plants to coal is frustrating.

Conversion of furnace oil based power plants on Thar coal can save around 5 billion dollars of foreign exchange per annum as furnace oil imports stands at 40 per cent of total petroleum imports that are over 12 billion dollars.

Farida Rashid adding that switching on coal should be made easier for the private power producers seeking permission since long as conversion to imported coal will also save billions, she observed.

Conversion will cut oil import bill, reduce borrowings, clip subsidies and bring production cost down providing relief to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers, she added.

Farida Rashid said that conversion will also help cull circular debt which is biggest threat to the economy, bridge budgetary gap, make funds available for new investment on public welfare and power sector betterment and improve balance of payments position.

She said that some two billion dollars could also be saved by ensuring merit in provision of gas to the power plants, a decision implementable within an hour. This can be ensured by preferring most efficient power plants irrespective of the fact that they are state-owned or privately owned units.

Alternatively, government can take steps to improve productivity of inefficient public sector electricity generation companies which are preferred in provision of gas.

Business community believes that the resolution to power woes lies in conversion to relatively stable fuel because volatile global oil prices have resulted in huge circular debt and unmaintainable generation cost.

Government can consider asking IPPs to convert to coal, largest carbon-emitting energy source of all, otherwise the circular debt will soon cross Rs one trillion rupees mark, she warned.

Economy cannot be salvaged in presence of unstable power sector which is facing many problems none of which is impossible to solve.

Presently, coal is responsible for 41per cent of global electricity generation, with 1932 coal power plants, coal account for over 50 per cent of all US electric generation while India with 126 plants is expected to overtake America by 2025.

South Africas 93 per cent and China’s 68.7 per cent electricity comes from coal while Pakistans coal-based power production is insignificant. We should take steps to balance our energy mix and improve dismal per capita energy consumption to boost economy.


Govt asked to abandon Tarbela revival plans, focus on KBD

The Punjab Forum on Monday asked to abandon plans to revive Tarbela dam spending billions of dollars and focus on construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) which will cost less and last longer than any other dam in the country.

An independent Chinese consultant hired by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to conduct a feasibility study for desilting the Tarbela reservoir has given opinion that desilting is not an economically or technically viable option.

His report clearly states that such a move can damage the countrys largest power house and reservoir, said Baig Raj, President Punjab Forum.

In a statement issued here today, he said that Tarbela which was completed in 1978 has already lost 30 per cent capacity to 6.6 million acre feet to silting over the years.

The report says that instead of undertaking such a massive exercise it would be more economical to build a new dam of the same size and capacity which has left government with little options to delay construction of KBD, one of the most viable projects in Pakistan, he added.

Mr. Baig Raj said that Tarbela dam has an estimated lifespan of 50 years; it would complete its designed life by 2029 while KBD has a life of 450 years.

Pakistans per capita water availability had already gone below 975 cubic metres per person from 5100 cubic meters in 1960 which is a great threat to industry, agriculture and masses which not only required urgent steps but it should act as a wakeup call for politicians opposing KBD.

Mr. Raj furthered that according to 1960 treaty Pakistan was to build a dam of the size of Tarbela at least every decade but governments failed to make a single dam despite resources which indicate lack of interest in securing countrys future.

Dams are built the world over to overcome water shortages and not to create them. The Mangla Dam brought green revolution, the Tarbela Dam increased water supply to the canal network by 25 per cent while Sindh got an additional seven million acre feet of water.

According to the findings of provincial Irrigation department, Sindh stands to get 2.2 million acre feet from Kalabagh, he said.

The President of Punjab Forum said that KBD is neither a technical nor a political issue, rather it is a humanitarian matter related to national survival which is being delayed by some politicians and so called experts to damage the federation on the directions of enemies of Pakistan.

Govt 5-yr performance disappointing

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Tuesday said five-year performance of the government is far from satisfactory.

Governments term remained marked with controversies and failures which contributed towards a weak federation, it said.

Rulers resorted to every tactic to prolong rule, national resources were plundered and national interests were compromised, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that country witnessed a surge in terrorism, inflation and uncertainty during the incumbent democratic government.

A prime minister was sent packing to defend the corruption of a politician which was a stain on the performance of the government, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that government has on its credit the clash of institutions, conspiracies against army and spy agencies and efforts to malign judiciary.

He said that number of drone attacks multiplied during last five years but the influence of foreign powers, number of foreign intelligence operators and gulf between federation and Balochistan was increased.

Indian influence was increased to an extent that it was allowed to silently complete two more mega projects on River Indus, Kalabagh dam was buried, Bhasha dam was stopped, circular debt became a threat and there was almost no progress on Thar coal.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that energy crisis took tool on masses and businesses leaving millions jobless, flight of capital, brain drain and shifting of industrial units attained new heights while rupee dwindled.

Situation in Karachi became uncontrollable while many institutions like PIA, Steel Mills, and Railways etc. broke all records of losses.

He said that credit of continuity of the democratic system goes to judiciary, army, media, civil society and friendly opposition.

New phase of Pak-Iran relations started

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Tehran is to review trade policies related to Pakistan later this month in a conference to hammer out all issues hampering trade and boost bilateral trade, a top official of Iran said.

Pakistani business community should participate in the moot to help formulate appropriate trade policy for ensuring sustainable trade between the two countries, said head of the visiting Iranian delegation Alaeddin Broujedri, Chairman National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.

Speaking to business community at FPCCI Capital Office, Broujedri said that all the issues being faced by Pakistani business community will be forwarded to Parliament for swift resolution.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, VP FPCCI Mirza Abdul Rehman, Iranian Ambassador Alireza Haghighian, Chairman Coordination Atif Ikram Sheikh, former president FPCCI Mian Habibullah, former VP FPCCI Zubair Ahmed Malik, Chairman Media and Diplomatic Affairs FPCCI Malik Sohail, VP RCCI Ch. Pervaz Ahmed Waraich, Adnan Iqbal President Gujrat Chamber and Presidents and Vice Presidents of ACCI, IWCCI and traders of Blue Area and other markets were also present on the occasion.

Borojourdi said that Iran was committed to the gas pipeline with Pakistan and also offered to help constructing the pipeline in Pakistan as well by providing a total of $500 million dollars.

We are looking forward to the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran on Dec 07 to finalised key agreement on the multi-billion dollar gas pipeline, he informed.

He said that once Iran gas starts flowing in Pakistan; it will settle the problem of energy scarcity in Pakistan.

We are impressed by the warm welcome given to us and practical wisdom of the business community here, other members of the delegation said.

Speaking at the occasion, Chairman Senate Defence and Defence Production Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that the two brotherly countries share common perception on many issues and we will continue to support each other on regional and international issues.

Iran has a unique distinction of being the first country to internationally recognize the status of Pakistan in 1947, he said.

He lauded the efforts of VP CACCI Chamber Tariq Sayeed, VP Saarc CCI Iftikhar Ali Malik and President FPCCI Haji Ghulam Qadir Sherani to boost regional trade.

Speaking on the occasion, VP FPCCI Mirza Abdul Rehman asked Iran to do best to resolve energy crisis, facilitate Pakistani exporters facing some problems, settle visa issues, improve quality certification standards and ensure smooth flow.

Chairman Coordination FPCCI Atif Ikram Sheikh while underlining the need for enhanced trade said the business leaders said that this visit and todays meeting should begin of new phase of relations between two nations with bilateral trade doubled in one year.

Chairman Media Malik Sohail demanded provision of proper information, concessional import policy and establishment to common border market to reduce informal trade.

Tehran should reduce import duty on rice and boost imports to reduce trade imbalance, he said.

The two countries should explore more possibilities of augmented barter trade through closer cooperation between public and private sector as relationship between two countries could go a long way in the presence of good rail, road air and sea links.

Punjab Forum asks int’l HR bodies to push Pakistan for KBD contruction

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Punjab Forum on Sunday asked the international human rights organisations to push Pakistan for early construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) as delay is threatening the whole population of the country.

It appreciated the landmark decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in which it ordered the federal government to construct Kalabagh dam (KBD) terming it in the best interest of country and generations to come.

As per the observation of the Chief Justice LHC, Justice Umer Ata Bandial, who has emerged as hero of the people of Pakistan, the KBD can be renamed as Federation Dam, said Baig Raj, President of the Punjab Forum.

If name of a province can be renamed, the name of a dam critical for national survival can also be renamed, he noted.

Speaking at a meeting to review current situation, he expressed disappointment over statements of federal ministers against the LHC decision which indicate that the federal government is too much focused on politics and it will never abide by the decision.

Baig Raj said that Parliament has no respect for human rights which is contrary to their claims; he said adding that political parties which are against the KBD will lose public support in the upcoming elections in certain critical constituencies.

He said that time has come when provincial governments and so-called nationalists of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa and Sindh should realise that nothing can save them from remaining vulnerable to floods and becoming a desert if KBD is not built. A referendum is the two provinces can expose the claims of nationalists, he said.

Baig Raj said that patriot elements need to educate masses on the pros and cons of KBD mired in intense political controversy since decades, remove the cobwebs of ignorance, and save 200 million people from the hunger, thirst and poverty.

The federal government is constitutionally bound to start the project in the light of the Council of Common Interests decisions taken in 1991 and 1998; he said adding that lack of consensus on KBD amounts to playing with the future of Pakistan.

The politicians and pseudo-intellectuals who are opposing the dam are doing a great disservice to Pakistan and its people irrespective of where they live or to which province they belong, he observed.

Baig Raj said that prosperity of Pakistan is tied to KBD therefore all positive forces should join hands to tackle political and technical concerns of the project keeping national interest supreme.

The scarcity of water and power had affected the quality and security of life of the citizens which is a violation of their fundamental rights; therefore government should take immediate decision to improve the situation, he demanded.

Baig Raj said that anti-Pakistan lobbies have deliberately converted a purely technical and humanitarian issue into a political problem to harm country which worries of the people are unfounded.

Lashing out at the governments strategy of avoiding water sector development in order to save the federation from political pressures will eventually destroy the federation, he warned.

The government and its allies have no viable alternative to KBD ditched without a parliamentary debate which is making the problem more complex.

He said that USAID has been claiming to help Pakistan overcome energy crisis, they should try to influence ANP for the construction of KBD. He lauded to Pakistan Saraiki Party for supporting KBD.

Energy inevitable for growth in South Asia

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The leaders of business community and have reiterated the need tap energy potential in South Asia which is must for maintainable growth and economic revival.

These observations surfaced in a seminar titled, Energy Cooperation in South Asia Commitment and New Dimensions organized by SAARC CCI in New Delhi in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

After inaugurating the seminar, Gireesh B. Pradhan, Secretary Ministry of New and Alternative Energy, India emphasized for energy cooperation and stressed a shift towards alternative energy.

Mr. Vikramjit Singh Sahney, President Saarc CCI said that un-interrupted supply of energy at affordable price was needed to sustain this economic growth.

The region is faced with 50 thousand MW of electricity which needs collective efforts to transform South Asia from an energy-starved to an energy efficient region.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Tariq Sayeed, former president of SAARC CCI said that South Asia has 150,000 MW of hydropower potential and .5 million MW solar and wind power potential but the region was faced with 50,000 MW shortfall.

Since the energy demand in the region would be doubled by 2020, there was dire need to invest in energy related projects, said Sayeed.

Mr. P.S. Bami, President India Energy noted that 300 million people only in India had no access to electricity despite the fact that India had more potential of energy production against energy demand.

Business leaders and energy exports including Mr. Kosala Wikramanayake, Mr. Subodh Kumar, Dr. Arbind Prasad, Mr. Mollah Amzad, Mr. Mr Ashish Khanna, Mr Nitya Nanda, Gyanendra L. Pradhan, and Mr. Kanwar Muhammad Javed Iqbal also spoke on the occasion.

Increased load shedding proves Govt investing in politics only

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Monday said load shedding has been increased in winter which is failure on the part of the authorities concerned.

Enhanced duration of load shedding proves that government efforts to resolve the longstanding issue of circular debt in the power sector remained futile, it said.

Policy of forcing countrys largest fuel retailer to buy oil from refineries and to provide it to power producers on credit has failed, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the short-term measure has helped reduce load shedding for some time but it has burdened the oil supplier to the tune of Rs 135 billion.

As winter bites, domestic demand will force government to slap additional cuts on supply of gas to CNG, fertilizer and industrial sectors due to its failure to contain theft, inability to import gas or boost local exploration and extraction, he said.

Similarly, Dr. Murtaza Mughal said, furnace oil requirement of power stations has been steadily increasing due to decreased gas supply and reduced hydropower generation.

The situation speaks of the interest of the government which is currently busy in investing in politics only, he said, adding that ad hoc policies will never result in economic revival.

Power crisis will continue to block all half-hearted attempts of the government to breathe life into crumbling economy, he observed.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that masses and business community has been demanding energy since democracy was reintroduced in Pakistan but their requests are falling on deaf years.

It is unfortunate that despite enormous resources of energy, country has to import a huge amount of hydrocarbons, he said.

Dr. Mughal warned that if the outcome of upcoming elections resulted in a hung parliament, the fears and miseries of masses will grow.

APCNGA expresses reservations over CNG audit report

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) on Wednesday expressed reservations on forensic audit report of the CNG stations terming it flawed.

In a letter sent to Chairman OGRA regarding audit of production cost of the CNG filling stations on the directives of Supreme Court, the APCNGA said that audit teams have neglected some critical issues which has left the report incomplete.

The quality of gas provided to CNG outlets has remained very important factor in terms of rate, price and billing but unfortunately this factor has been neglected during the audit, said Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, Chairman Supreme Council APCNGA in a statement.

Variation in quality of natural gas results in dissimilar billing in different locations of the country resulting in losses, he added.

He said that 90 per cent of the CNG stations are facing low pressure which is another major concern for the sector. The excessive cost of gas and electricity bills due to low pressure should have been taken into consideration in the audit report recommendations.

Paracha informed that most of the CNG stations are installed on petrol pumps where the owners have to pay 10 to 20 per cent margin to oil marketing companies which hikes cost of doing business, a factor conveniently overlooked in the audit.

Prices of gas provided to CNG stations should be uniform and government should sell gas at kilograms rates, he demanded.

Over 2300 CNG stations remain closed for twelve days every month due to gas load shedding causing colossal losses. Only eighteen working days marred with unscheduled load shedding is an additional burden faced by the CNG sector, said Paracha.

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