Strong political will can drag Pakistan out of power crisis

Lead 04-23Sidra Saif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan could face tougher times in coming years if the new democratic government in Pakistan does not display political will and come up with a pragmatic approach to overcome the persistent energy crisis which has almost crippled the whole fabrics of the national economy, agriculture and scared away international investors.
Presently, the power supply-demand gap has got widened multiplying the crisis across the country which is witnessing the virtual shutdown of economic activities, closure of textile industries as well as fertilizer plants declined production in addition to shattering the agriculture and domestic life.
According to statistics, the countrys energy demand had grown at an annual consumption growth rate of 4.8 per cent during the past five years but now it is expected to grow at about 10 per cent annually. Therefore, need exists for a high and sustained growth in energy supply and infrastructure capacity of 7 – 8 per cent per annum to support the steady growth in the countrys GDP.
About the power production in the country, the total installed power generation capacity in 2010-11 was 23412MW. According to the breakup of the power production, 16070MW production was thermal (69 per cent), 6555 MW was hydroelectric (28 per cent) and 787MW was nuclear (3 per cent).
Though the installed capacity and generation (mostly through international power producers) have shown a positive growth in the last few years, however, the actual addition in the installed capacity, as well as in power generation, has always remained short of the targeted level thus indicating the lack of effectiveness of project planning and implementation during the last few years.
According to the prevalent situation, Pakistan needs about 14000-15000MW electricity per day, and the demand is certain to rise to approximately 20,000 MW per day by the year 2010. Presently, it can produce about 11,500 MW per day, however, the production normally remained 7,000 to 8,000 MW per day thus registering a power shortfall of over 7,000 MW electricity.
Most recently the 5Th Pakistan Oil and Gas Forum 2013 was held in Islamabad where a large number of delegates and industry stalwarts from government, regulatory bodies, oil and gas companies, the power generation sector and allied organizations, including multiple panels of experts attended the forum.
The experts had put their emphasis on adopting a pragmatic approach to handle the energy crisis in the country and hoped that the new government would display its strong will towards resolving the critical energy issue. They also called for creating an integrated energy ministry to build, improve and implement on a comprehensive energy policy.
Experts link this persistent power shortfall to the governments late response to this critical issue as it had drafted the power policy in 1994 to meet the power situation, however, it failed to deliver as the power supply-demand gap is constantly on the rise. This poor as well as delayed management led to more dependence on thermal power production from 30 per cent to 70 per cent now, upsurge in power tariffs, widened supply-demand gap and more dependence on gas and furnace oil.
Similarly, at the later stage, the rental power plants option was also another fiasco while the absence of any tangible policy on tapping the Thar coal potential added to the power shortfall, they said.
At this critical stage, the government functionaries have not lost their hope and say that implementation of the new petroleum policy is an important response of the ministry to the changed business environment in the upstream oil and gas sector; but added that good governance is one of the factors to be dealt with this critical issue.

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