PEW terms pipeline development greatest achievement of the Government

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Wednesday said inauguration of Pakistani portion of Iran gas pipeline, economically and strategically crucial for the future of our country, is the greatest achievement of the incumbent Government.

This historic decision, taken after a long delay, will help attract investment, provide jobs, and revive sliding economy while it has renewed hopes among dejected masses and business community reeling under severe energy crisis, it said.

The decision shows that Pakistan has decided to put its own interests ahead of the interests of all other nations and it is unwilling to sacrifice economy for the sake of the sole super power which has helped government gain global admiration, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

President Zardaris bold step will result in enhanced regional connectivity while balancing Pakistans relations with Iran and the Arab world to enhance our dignity among comity of nations, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that slapping sanctions on Pakistan is against US interests, as it will have negative impact on war on terror and make US withdrawal from Afghanistan difficult.

He said that that American apathy towards Islamabads economic compulsions resulted in rapid developments related to the project, which have surprised many independent observers.

US continued to offer costly and unviable solutions to Pakistans energy problems including TAPI but it refused to sign a Civil Nuclear Agreement as she did with India which was discrimination with an important ally, Dr. Murtaza Mughal noted.

The decision will go a long way in ensuring energy security for Pakistan and improve our energy mix heavily tilted towards oil.

He warned that Iranian gas will of little use if government failed to introduce power sector reforms, attracted investment in exploration and cull circular debt.

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’s will, ability to import Iran gas questioned

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Thursday voiced doubt over governments determination and ability to ensure import of Iranian gas through multi-billion-dollar pipeline.

Governments tall claims to relieve country of energy crisis by importing natural gas from Iran remained confined to statements for public consumption and they woke up to the issue days before assemblies are scheduled to be dissolved which has raised doubts among many, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

She said that all the statements of leading politicians claiming to reject US pressure on pipeline are aimed at gaining popularity and add to the problems of the next government as Pakistan is ill prepared to afford US confrontation.

Why government did not initiate the project soon after coming to power which would have helped revive economy and why now everything is being done with an amazing speed, she questioned.

Farida Rashid said that US would never allow Iran to increase its presences, income and influence in the region. She do not want to see a stable Pakistan too, the president of the womens chamber added.

Many experts have rejected the tall claims of the government at a time when country is heading towards a default.

Pakistans balance of payment situation has become highly unstable, forex reserves are at unsatisfactory level while country cannot pay for imports for more than two months.

In such a situation when almost every sector of the economy is limping how can Pakistan avoid a minimum of 9-10 billion dollar loan from the IMF which can be provided only on the behest of US, said Farida Rashid.

Pakistan can never have reliable energy supply from Iran unless US stop looking at the project from a political angle and start considering it imperative for survival of Pakistan.

Farida said that handing over Gwadar port to China was a laudable decision that may have something to do with fresh wave of terror across the country.

Dr Asim held responsible for energy crisis

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) on Thursday held Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim responsible for energy crisis which has resulted in economic downturn, sluggish growth and massive unemployment.

Energy crunch will remain a serious challenge confronting country unless the incompetent Adviser Petroleum is removed, said Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, Chairman Supreme Council APCNGA.

Speaking at a press conference here, he said that the artificial crisis of gas should be settled immediately restoring supply to industries and CNG filling stations across Punjab according to the former schedule otherwise we will launch countrywide protest movement from Feb 2.

He informed that APCNGA will start protect from Bhawalpur which would be followed by protest in Multan on Feb 03 and Vehari while a rally will be carried out in Faisalabad on Feb 04, Feb 05 in Gujranwala and afterwards in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Paracha warned that sit-ins would be staged in Lahore and Islamabad on Feb 10th if authorities failed to accept legitimate demands of the CNG sector.

He said that incompetence of Dr. Asim has paralysed whole country and the critical energy sector which has contributed to closure of hundreds of thousands of businesses and left millions of poor jobless triggering multiple social problems in this era of double digit inflation.

The leader of the CNG sector added that LPG-air mix and LNG import projects are scams of bigger magnitude having far more serious repercussions than the infamous Rental Power Projects in which nation was deprived of billions.

The moves regarding liquid gas have been initiated to benefit few influential and crook businessmen on the cost of country which should not be tolerated, he said.

Reposing full confidence in the private sector energy experts, Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha said that energy crisis can be resolved within few months if a high-powered committee is formed having full representation of the private sector.

Such a move will put economy back on tract and give hope to dejected masses that are being punished for the greed and selfishness of few who are focused on making as much illegitimate wealth as possible in few months.

He said that the landmark decision of the Islamabad High Court terming GIDC illegal has proved truth of APCNGA claims which is victory of masses.

Paracha asked the civil society to take note of the issue and help CNG operators to get the issue resolved.

APCNGA rejects ECC’s gas load management plan

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) on Tuesday rejected the gas load management plan approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet terming it a short-sighted decision to inflict miseries on masses and threaten investments in the CNG sector on the behest of influential petroleum and liquid gas sectors.

The decision to keep Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) sector at the bottom of the priority list for provision of the natural gas is unacceptable which will be resisted and challenged at all forums, said Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, Chairman Supreme Council APCNGA.

The gas load management plan has been designed keeping the interests of influential sectors in mind, least priority to the CNG sector means that general public will continue to wait for hours in long queues to get CNG, he said in a statement issued here today.

He said that the ECC controversial decision has threatened investments to the tune of Rs 400 billion in the CNG sector and devastate owners of 3.5 million people who are running their vehicles on the economical fuel.

He said that CNG sector has no option but natural gas to run their business while all other sectors using natural gas have other options available but they are addicted to subsidised gas.

These sectors are highly influential and they lend support to politicians during elections, said Paracha adding that conspiracy against masses would be foiled.

Demanding an inquiry into the conspiracies hatched by the petroleum ministry against CNG sector, Paracha said that the ECC decision is based on another summary moved by the concerned ministry which amounts to paving way for corruption to the tune of billions.

He said that a mafia wants to deprive masses of economical fuel which will trigger imports of petrol, LNG, and LPG which will open floodgates for inflation, unemployment, environmental degradation etc.

Paracha said that a lobby want to destroy gas infrastructure to flood country with costly fuel while government quarters are eying kick back to the tune of billions in such deals in which LPG-air mix deal is included.

He called upon the masses to unite and take part in protests by CNG operators to foil the designs of politicians against general public and country.

Paracha also asked the Chief Justice Pakistan to take note of the conspiracies aimed at personal prosperity at the cost of economy and country.

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.

Energy bureaucracy complicated the issue of CNG prices after SC decision

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) on Monday said that energy bureaucracy has deliberately complicated the simple issue of CNG pricing after the landmark decision of the Supreme Court (SC) in a bid to deprive masses of economical fuel, reward influential sectors and pave way for additional imports of costly fossil fuel.

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), independent auditors and parliamentarians have accepted that current retail price of CNG is not sustainable but at the same time nation is being misguided regarding excessive profit margins of CNG operators, said Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, Chairman Supreme Council APCNGA.

Speaking to a press conference at a local hotel, he expressed disappointment over repeated statements by top government functionaries to phase-out CNG sector which is using only six per cent of the total gas production.

He said that following the people-friendly verdict of the SC no one tried to understand the issue while some elements in the government used all their energies to confuse the situation to turn judiciary and masses against the CNG sector.

Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha asked the President and Prime Minister to take note of the plot which is hurting owners of 3.5 million vehicles using CNG, proprietors and staff of 3400 CNG outlets and millions of commuters.

He said that authorities are deliberately delaying announcement of the prices and implementation of report prepared by auditors to sabotage the Supreme Court decision, enrage masses and cripple CNG operators financially.

We have a right to ask why we were forced for an agreement in 2008, now how this agreement has been scraped unilaterally and who directed Ogra to reduce prices to unmanageable levels, said Paracha.

He said that the SC had also raised objections on wellhead prices and directed a forensic audit but no move has been initiated in this direction.

Paracha said that government is buying gas at Rs 18 and Rs 850 per unit from different wells located in the same area while the difference is adjusted through cross-subsidy.

Government is buying gas from Qadirpur field at $2.56 per mmbtu while it is paying 8.5 dollars to Kadan Wari gas field for the same which merits a probe, he demanded.

Now, energy ministry has initiated efforts to increase the buying price of gas from producers which will put an additional burden of Rs 122 billion on masses which is a conspiracy.

Government is presenting cooked statistics against CNG sector using 6 per cent of the gas to reward influential sectors reaping benefits of their contacts with those who matter the most, he said.

He rejected decisions and statements regarding imposing additional taxes on CNG operators, barring vehicle owners from buying CNG, closing down filling stations for two months during winter, cancellation of licences of stations using extra gas, reducing operational cost to zero and closing down 400 CNG stations.

He said that we are also Pakistanis, we have a right to live and we will never compromise on interests of masses.

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.

Pak energy companies, banks asked to explore Indonesia

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Monday said Pakistani oil and gas companies can operate comfortably in Indonesia and make reasonable profits.

Energy demand in Indonesia is growing by 7 per cent per annum which has created demand for foreign capital and expertise in oil and gas and renewable energy sectors, said Atif Ikram Sheikh, Chairman Coordination FPCCI Capital office.

Speaking to business community, he said that oil and gas companies in Indonesia will invest USD 32 billion in two years to drill for energy but there is a lot of room for more investments.

Atif Ikram Sheikh who is also Senior Vice Chairman of Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association said that Pakistani energy companies are already working in many countries but they have yet to step into lucrative Indonesian market.

Southeast Asias largest energy producer and consumer is ready to welcome Pakistani companies, give them profitable oil blocks, and support them through exemplary oil and gas regulations and enabling investment laws, he said.

The consumption of oil in Indonesia stands at 1,500,000 barrels per day (bpd) a day with local supply recorded at 900,000 bpd while rest of demand is fulfilled through imports, he added.

Atif said that Pakistani banking companies can also expand their overseas operations to the largest ASEAN economy as Pakistans entire palm oil imports worth over two billion dollars will be shifted to Indonesia from Malaysia within months.

Indonesia, worlds third largest rice consumer is also short of rice supplies which can be exploited by Pakistani exporters, he said.

Pakistan can also seek help from Indonesia which has remained the third-largest generator of geothermal power after US and the Philippines, he informed.

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