Worsening Gas and Electricity Crises in Pakistan
Recent Growth in Gas Demand:
Demand for natural gas in Pakistan increased by almost 10 percent annually from 2000-01 to 2007-08, reaching around 3,200m cubic feet per day (MMCFD) last year, against the total production of 3,774 MMCFD, according to Pakistani official sources. But, during 2008-2009, the demand for natural gas exceeded the available supply, with production of 4,528 MMCFD gas against demand for 4,731 MMCFD, indicating a shortfall of 203 MMCFD. This winter, Sui Northern Gas sources have reportedly told the media that the company is dealing with a shortfall of 700 MMCFD of gas due to increasing use of heaters and geysers.
The potentially devastating effect of the gas shortage on the nation can be gauged by the fact that Pakistanis heavily depend on gas for their energy needs, much more so than neighboring Indians. With a gas pipeline network stretching around 56,400 km, pipeline density of 1044 km/mmscmd (million metric standard cubic meter per day) and a 31,000 km distribution network to serve its domestic and commercial consumers and nearly 3000 CNG stations, the gas consumption in Pakistan is much higher than its bigger South Asian neighbor. India relies more heavily on its vast coal reserves for energy.
According to BMI, gas is the dominant fuel, accounting for 47.5% of Pakistan's primary energy demand (PED) in 2007, followed by oil at 30.7%, hydro-electric energy at 12.9% and coal with a 7.9% share. Regional energy demand is forecast to reach 4,859 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) by 2013, representing 24.9% growth from the estimated 2008 level. Pakistan’s estimated 2008 market share of 1.52% is set to ease to 1.45% by 2013. The country’s estimated 2.5TWh of nuclear demand in 2008 is forecast to reach 5.0TWh by2013, with its share of the Asia Pacific nuclear market rising from 0.49% to 0.75% over the period.
In terms of overall energy requirements, here is a more complete picture for per capita energy consumption in South Asia and China, using Nationmaster, with 2006-2007 figures and rankings:
Pakistan per capita gas consumption 187 cu meters(ranked 73)
India per capita gas consumption 36 cu meters (ranked 99)
China per capita gas consumption 53 cu meter (ranked 95)
India per capita electric consumption 466 KWhr (ranked 160)
Pakistan per capita electric consumption 430 KWhr (ranked 164)
China per capita electric consumption 2,179 KWhr (ranked 91)
India coal consumption per capita 0.3 ton (ranked 23)
Pakistan coal consumption per capita 0.03 ton (ranked 35)
China coal consumption per capita 1 ton (ranked 16)
India oil consumption per day per 1000 people 2.4 barrels (ranked 165)
Pakistan oil consumption per day per 1000 people 2.2 barrels (ranked 169)
China oil consumption per day per 1000 people 5.7 barrels (ranked 144)
There is strong correlation between energy availability and level of any nation's development. The nations topping the list of human development rankings are also the largest per capita consumers of energy.
Per capita energy consumption in Pakistan is estimated at 14.2 million Btu, which is much higher than Bangladesh's 5 million BTUs per capita but slightly less than India's 15.9 million BTU per capita energy consumption. South Asia's per capita energy consumption is only a fraction of other industrializing economies in Asia region such as China (56.2 million BTU), Thailand (58 million BTU) and Malaysia (104 million BTU), according to the US Dept of Energy 2006 report. To put it in perspective, the world average per capita energy use is about 65 million BTUs and the average American consumes 352 million BTUs. With 40% of the Pakistani households that have yet to receive electricity, and only 18% of the households that have access to pipeline gas, the energy sector is expected to play a critical role in economic and social development. With this growth comes higher energy consumption and stronger pressures on the country’s energy resources. At present, natural gas and oil supply the bulk (80 percent) of Pakistan’s energy needs. However, the consumption of those energy sources vastly exceeds the supply. For instance, Pakistan currently produces only 18.3 percent of the oil it consumes, fostering a dependency on imports that places considerable strain on the country’s financial position. On the other hand, hydro and coal are perhaps underutilized today, as Pakistan has ample potential supplies of both.
Pakistan and Germany have initiated serious discussions of German funding of eight ongoing and new hydropower projects worth billions of dollars. These talks have takien place in Islamabad between German Minister for Economic Co-operation and Development Ms. Heidemaire Wiegoreak Zeul and Pakistani Prime Minister's Adviser on Finance Mr. Shaukat Tarin, according Business Recorder newspaper.
In addition to megaprojects such as 1000 MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, a number of community-based micro hydro projects are being executed with the help of the Agha Khan Foundation in Pakistan's Northern Areas and NWFP. Within this region, out of a total of 137 micro-hydro plants, the AKRSP has established 28 micro-hydros with an installed capacity of 619kW. Initially, in 1986, these plants started as research and demonstration units. These projects were extended to Village Organizations (VOs) and became participatory projects. A Village Organization (VO) is a body of villagers who have organized themselves around a common interest.
Pakistan has vast reserves of coal. But there is very little energy produced by burning coal. China has now agreed to invest about $600 million for setting up an integrated coal mining-cum-power project in Sindh. The project will produce 180 million tons of coal per year, which is sufficient to fuel the proposed 405 MW power plant. Pakistan is currently world's seventh largest coal-producing country, with coal reserves of more than 185 billion tons, ranking as the fourth of fifth largest coal reserves in the world. Almost all (99 percent) of Pakistan's coal reserves are found in the province of Sindh. Pakistan's largest coal field is Thar coal field which is spread over an area of 9100 square kilometers, and contains 175 billion tons of coal. So far this coal field has not been developed but efforts are underway.
In addition to the coal project, China has agreed to build several other power plants in Pakistan to help the South Asian nation deal with its worsening electricity crisis. When completed over the next several years, these plants, including Nandipur (425 MW, Thermal), Guddu(800 MW, Thermal) and Neelam-Jhelum(1000 MW, Hydro), Chashma (1200 MW, Nuclear) will add more than 3000 MW of power generating capacity for the energy-hungry country. Pakistan is currently facing a deficit of 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts, resulting in extensive load-shedding (rolling blackouts) of several hours a day.
China has already installed a 325-megawatt nuclear power plant (C1) at Chashma and is currently working on another (C2) of the same capacity that is expected to be online by 2010. The agreements for C3 and C4 have also been signed. The United States has objected to China supplying C3 and C4 on the grounds that any Pak-China nuclear cooperation would require consensus approval by the NSG, of which China is now a member, for any exception to the guidelines. The US is applying double standards since it supported and got approval for such an exception from NSG for its own nuclear deal with India.
Beyond the power generation capacity expansion projects, Pakistan must also pay attention to modernizing its national grid. The country's creaky and outdated electricity infrastructure loses over 30 percent of generated power in transit, partly due to theft, more than seven times the losses of a well-run system, according to the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank; and a lack of spare high-voltage grid capacity limits the transmission of power from hydroelectric plants in the north to make up for shortfalls in the south.
In terms of the cost of renewable sources such as wind and solar, the cost of not empowering the poor rural communities is far greater than the cost of providing a Grameen Shakti type solar system, or Agha Khan Foundation's microhydro or the gearless wind microturbines that are beginning to show up on the rural landscape in Pakistan.
Given the unresponsive nature of "democracies" and incompetent and corrupt governance in India and Pakistan, many of the poor rural communities far away from the national grid will probably never be electrified unless there are community-based local green initiatives pursued with the help of NGOs.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Industry Growth:
According to International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles, as of December 2008, Pakistan has the world’s highest number of vehicles running on compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The number is 2 million. Pakistan also has the World’s largest number of CNG refueling stations, 2941 as of July 29, 2009.
Just as the worst electricity crisis of its history is currently gripping the nation, it appears that the gas crisis has begun to rear it ugly head, with recurring reports of low gas pressure, CNG station closures and rationing, and gas "load shedding" for businesses and consumers. The blame game has already started and there appears to be little relief in sight on either the electricity or the gas fronts. One of the reported effects of the gas shortage is delay in the availability of power from the rental power plants which are expected to operate on gas. It appears that the attempt to solve the electricity crisis has made life even more difficult for the people by spawning a gas crisis at the same time.
Citizens and industries in Lahore have been particularly badly hit, resulting in angry protests widely reported in the media. The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), the textile industry group, has claimed that it suffered losses of about Rs 1 billion in December due to lack of smooth gas supply to the industry. Pakistan's CNG industry is also feeling the pinch after rapid growth in the last few years.
Rental Power Plants (RPPs):
A story in Pakistani newspaper the News is alleging that "these expensive rental power plants, which were being installed with tall claims to address the energy crises in the country, were said to have now become one of the major reasons behind a new sorts of energy crises in Pakistan, as their gas requirements are bound to hit other sectors of economy running on gas supplies".
Solutions For Gas Shortage:
The best solution to alleviate the gas shortage is to build a pipeline to import over a billion cubic feet of gas a day from Iran, but such a project will take many years to implement even on an accelerated schedule. In the meantime, Pakistan's Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) is working on completing a project, dubbed Mashal LNG Project, that was started three years ago to import 500 MMCFD of LNG from Qatar by 2010. But even that won't happen till October 2011. The second phase of this project will add an additional 500 MMCFD of LNG by 2013.
In response to the alarming gas situation, there are reports that Pakistan is finally going ahead with the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipe Line Project and has initiated the process of arranging financing of US $1.245 needed for laying 800 Km long pipe line from Pakistan-Iran border to Nawab Shah. Pakistan will also import 1.05 billion cubic feet of gas per day from Iran at 78 percent of crude oil parity price. Pakistan and Iran have already signed Gas Sales Agreement (GSPA) for importing 750 million cubic feet gas per day which will be used to generate 4500 MW of electricity and would be a cheaper alternative to the presently expensive imported furnace oil used in the existing thermal power houses. Another 250 million cubic feet of Gas per day is also envisaged to the purchased for development projects at Gawadar in Balochistan. Considering the magnitude and strategic nature of the Gas Line Project, the government has adopted a private-public partnership approach for financing the project with debt equity ratio of 70:30 under which the Pakistan government will provide 51 per cent equity. This equity financing would be provided upfront through selected Public Sector Entities like OGDCL, Pakistan Petroleum Limited , Government Holding Private Limited, Employees Old Age Benefits Institution and State Life Insurance Corporation. The debt will be sourced from the market backed by the government guarantees for transportation tariff. Any gap in raising the required debt from the market, the funds will be available by PDSP allocations.
The current completion date for Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project is June, 2014, if things go smoothly. There is significant investor interest. Russia's Gazprom is very keen on the project. "We are ready to join the project as soon as we receive an offer," Russia's deputy energy minister Anatoly Yankovsky has been quoted as saying by the media. Another top Russian government official has said Moscow sees the pipeline as a means to divert Iranian gas from competing with Russian exports on the European market.
Iranian Consul General in Pakistan, Masoud Mohammad Zamani has told Pakistani news site the Dawn that Iran has completed major portion of work on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and within couple of months the pipeline will be at Iran-Pakistan border. Hopefully, by 2013 Iran gas will be used in Pakistan, Iranian envoy explained during a meeting with members of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
India, too, needs to import gas to meet its growing energy needs. But it pulled out of the pipeline project after the US-India nuclear deal. If and when India does come back to the table, the pipeline built from Iran to Nawabshah in Pakistan can be extended to support additional capacity for India.
As the nation's attention turns to the gravity of the worsening gas energy crisis, the growing supply-demand gap for electricity is still unaddressed. The government's attempts to fill the gap with rental power have raised many questions and drawn serious corruption charges from the opposition parties and the media. Analysts at Center for Research and Security Studies are asking why have some private power producers completely shut down? And why are other private power producers operating well below their full capacity? It is being alleged that the reasons for buying rental power to fill the electricity gap rather than pay the outstanding dues of the independent power producers (IPPs) to fully utilize exiting installed capacity have to do with the kickbacks offered by the rental power operators. According to Reuters, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin almost resigned after failing to persuade the cabinet against renting, an option he considered expensive and inefficient.
There have been widespread complaints in Islamabad, including by Mr. Tarin, that the government had solutions to improve the power output but was refusing to implement them in order to benefit a handful of power plant operators, such as those supplying rental power, while the IPPs are not being paid for supplying power from currently underutilized installed capacity. Requests for information by Transparency International Pakistan regarding rental power contracts have been ignored by the Ministry of Water and Power. There are widespread corruption allegations against President Asif Ali Zardari personally who has allegedly influenced the award of the 783 MW rental power contracts to a former governor of Oklahoma and his Pakistani partner.
Rental power is not an issue by itself. While it does provide some relief, it does not address the core problem of making sure that government departments, politicians, businesses and all consumers pay for power they use to make it attractive for private investments in the power sector.
Currently, most IPPs in Pakistan are operating well below capacity because they are not being paid billions of rupees owed to them. Paying them should be the first step toward filling the supply-demand gap by fully utilizing current capacity, and restoring order in the power market. Unless this done, the electricity rates will keep rising because the honest consumers end up footing the power bill for the many deadbeats and power thieves.
Meeting Energy Demand Growth:
BMI forecasts Pakistan real GDP growth averaging 3.98% a year between 2009 and 2013, with the 2009 estimate at 2.50%. The population is expected to expand from 161mn to 177mn, with per capita GDP and electricity consumption increasing by 20% and 11% respectively. Power consumption is expected to increase from an estimated 81TWh in 2008 to 99TWh by the end of the forecast period, which provides are relatively stable theoretical generation surplus (before transmission losses, etc.), assuming 4.3% annual growth in electricity generation.
Between 2008 and 2018, BMI is forecasting an increase in Pakistani electricity generation of 59.2%,which is mid-range for the Asia Pacific region. This equates to 27.2% in the 2013-2018 period, up from25.1% in 2008-2013. PED growth is set to increase from 19.1% in 2008-2013 to 25.8%, representing 49.9% for the entire forecast period. An increase of 49% in hydro-power use during 2008-2018 is a key element of generation growth. Thermal power generation is forecast to rise by 52% between 2008 and2018, with nuclear usage up 380% from a low base.
The failures of successive Pakistani governments in tackling the growing energy crisis are shameful. Inaction at this point would be criminal. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project has to be accelerated to avoid significant further harm to the country. At the same time, the shortages of electricity and gas need to be managed actively and fairly to minimize the impact on the consumers and the businesses to help the economy recover from the current slump. The issue of unpaid electricity bills and the rampant power theft should be confronted head-on to restore investor confidence in long-term energy projects in the country. Since the federal government is the biggest dead beat, followed by the four provincial governments, FATA, the KESC and the KW&SB, it is an opportunity for the current leadership in Islamabad to lead by example by paying off their outstanding utility bills, and resolving the circular debt issue in energy sector expeditiously.
Pakistan's Electricity Crisis
Pakistan's Gas Pipeline and Distribution Network
Pakistan's Energy Statistics
US Department of Energy Data
China Signs Power Plant Deals in Pakistan
Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Projects
Water Scarcity in Pakistan
Energy from Thorium
Comparing US and Pakistani Tax Evasion
Zardari Corruption Probe
Pakistan's Oil and Gas Report 2010
Circular Electricity Debt Problem
International CNG Vehicles Association
Lessons From IPP Experience in Pakistan
Correlation Between Human Development and Energy Consumption
BMI Energy Forecast Pakistan