Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
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Page added on June 17, 2012
Experts have stressed the need for exploiting the country’s vast coal reserves for producing energy in order to cope with the power crunch that has affected the entire nation, ranging from ordinary people to industries.
The focus should be on large-scale mechanised coal mining to produce various forms of energy from it, they said while speaking at a seminar on “Energy crisis and coal reserves in Pakistan: Potential, problems and prospects” at the Institute of Policy Studies here on Thursday.
They cited corruption, nepotism and poor governance as the main reasons behind the energy crisis and called for measures to tackle the problem.
“We are a nation sitting on second largest coal reserves in the world, but are still facing the worst energy crisis merely because of cumbersome procedures, lack of vision and poor planning,” said Usman Aminuddin, former minister for petroleum and natural resources.
He said 25% of global energy needs were being met through coal and it was being used to produce 41% of electricity produced around the world. Despite Pakistan having 184 billion tons of coal reserves, the second largest in the world after the US, not a single unit of electricity was being produced through this resource, he said.
Answering critics who question the quality of coal present in Pakistan, Aminuddin pointed out that South Africa was meeting 94% of its energy needs with the help of coal, though the quality of its coal was inferior than the coal in Pakistan.
“Technology has developed to an extent that any quality of coal may be processed and brought into use for various purposes. It is not that coal is of no value, in fact the people occupying and influencing the power corridors have made the whole nation hostage to vested interests,” he said.
Referring to recent efforts to utilise Thar coal through under-ground gasification, he was of the view that the technology had been in a ‘pilot stage’ in the US since the 1960s and there were 14 major drawbacks of the technology. Of these, the Americans have been able to address only six so far.
“There are other proven processes and technologies employed around the world, which should be taken into consideration,” he suggested.
He also referred to gel fuel made from molasses, which was the second major fuel source in Africa and could easily be made available to the people of Pakistan as the country was rich in sugarcane with no dearth of sugar mills producing large quantities of molasses as a by-product.
Mirza Hamid Hassan, former secretary of water and power, who was chairing the session, underlined the need for developing mechanised mining infrastructure and the coal so acquired should be brought into multiple uses.
“The whole debate about coal is with reference to power generation, while the potential of this natural resource is much more than that,” he stressed.
He called for attracting foreign investment for coal exploration, which could be ensured only through sound policies and an enabling environment for the investors.