Rising Fuel Costs Hit Power Sector in India & Pakistan
India burns coal to produce 55 percent of its electricity needs. Domestic coal production has increased just 1 percent last year while 11 percent additional power generation capacity has been installed. Some power producers have been importing coal, but that option has become more untenable recently because India’s biggest supplier, Indonesia, has doubled coal prices, according to a report in New York Times.
Unlike India which uses coal, Pakistan relies heavily on natural gas for the bulk of electricity production and other energy needs. Demand for natural gas now exceeds 4.5 billion cubic feet per day or 1.6 trillion cubic feet per year, with a shortfall of nearly 300 million cubic feet per day. According to BMI, gas accounted 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.
In addition to gas imports, Pakistan has other options to meet its energy needs. Some of these are as follows:
1. Developing its shale gas reserves estimated 51 trillion cubic feet near Karachi in southern Sindh province. The US experience has shown that investment in shale gas can increase production quite rapidly and prices brought down from about $12 per mmBTU in 2008 to under $2 per mmBTU recently. Pursuing this option requires US technical expertise and significant foreign investment on an accelerated schedule.
2. Increasing production of gas from nearly 30 trillion cubic feet of remaining conventional gas reserves. This, too, requires significant investment on an accelerated schedule.
3. Converting some of the idle power generation capacity from oil and gas to imported coal to make electricity more available and affordable.
4. Utilizing Pakistan's vast coal reserves in Sindh's Thar desert. The problem here is that the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs) are not lending for coal development because of environmental concerns.And the Chinese who were showing interest in the project have since pulled out.
5. Hydroelectric and other renewables including wind and solar. Several of these projects are funded and underway but it'll take a while to bring them online to make a difference.
In my view, Pakistan should pursue all of the above options with options 1, 2 and 3 as a priority for now. Pakistan's best interest is not in defying Saudis and Americans to buy expensive Iranian gas and end up with crippling sanctions which could be much worse than its current energy crisis. Its best interests will be served by developing its own cheap domestic shale gas on an accelerated schedule with Saudi investment and US tech know-how. If the Americans and the Saudis refuse to help, then Pakistan will have a stronger case to go with the Iran gas option.
Pakistan Needs Shale Gas Revolution
US Census Bureau's International Stats
Pakistan's Vast Shale Gas Reserves
US AID Overview of Pakistan's Power Sector
US Can Help Pakistan Overcome Energy Crisis
Abundant and Cheap Coal Electricity
US Dept of Energy Report on Shale Gas
Pakistan's Twin Energy Crises
Pakistan's Electricity Crisis
Pakistan's Gas Pipeline and Distribution Network
Pakistan's Energy Statistics
US Department of Energy Data
Electrification Rates By Country
CO2 Emissions, Birth, Death Rates By Country
China Signs Power Plant Deals in Pakistan
Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Projects
Pakistan Energy Industry Overview
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
Rare Earths at Reko Diq?
Lessons From IPP Experience in Pakistan
Correlation Between Human Development and Energy Consumption
BMI Energy Forecast Pakistan