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LAHORE: Energy conference focuses on challenges and solutions

* Dr Mubarakmand says gas from coal project was going waste because government didn’t help establish power plant to use the produced gas

Daily Times report by Shabbir Sarwar

Nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand, who is also Planning Commission of Pakistan’s Science and Technology Member, has said that two nuclear power plants each having capacity of 350 megawatts will be completed by 2015 while efforts are being made to get foreign funding for another two nuclear power plants of 1,000 MW to overcome to the energy crisis in the country.

He was talking to media after chairing a key session of the Pakistan, Oil, Gas and Energy Industry Conference, which concluded here on Friday. The two-day conference theme was ‘Securing Pakistan’s Energy Future: Options and Solution’, held at the Lahore Expo Centre along with display of over 200 stalls of energy-related products and services.

Dr Mubarakmand said Asian Development Bank has refused to provide funds for shifting Jamshoro power plants on coal gasification using Pakistani coal. He said the bank was ready to invest if we imported coal from Malaysia, however it would cost us per unit power production at Rs 20 instead of Rs 8 if we use our local coal reserves.

To a question about the announcement of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister-elect, that he would visit the Thar coal energy filed, Dr Mubarakmand said despite successful experiment of coal gasification the government has provided them only 10 percent of the money required for the project. He said the government didn’t provide funds for establishing a power plant for using the gas prepared from the fields and due to this reason the gas produced was going to waste.

He said both nuclear power plants of Chashma 3 and Chashma 4 of 350 megawatts each would be functional by 2015.

During his presentation in the conference, Dr Mubarakmand said short-term threats to the energy security includes power pilferages, transmission losses, sabotage, corruption, inefficiency and bad governance while long-term threats include policy of lending agencies, (World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund), scrapping of pilot coal mining project at Thar and withdrawal of support for Thar coal-based power plant by Asian Development Bank.

He said the impediment to Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline were US reservations and Afghanistan security situation in case of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project.

He said power production from UCG is possible with an IGCC configuration having an efficiency of maximum 55 percent or with a series of syngas engine generator set and a steam turbine utilising exhaust gases of the engines to generate additional power with an overall efficiency of 65-70 percent. One tonne of coal produces one megawatt of electricity per hour. The world average cost of power from UCG is 2-3 cents per unit. For a 100 MW project it is expected to be 4-5 cents per unit. The capital expenditure on a UCG power station inclusive of gasifier is $1.2 per watt the lowest for any power production plant.

International Energy Agency, France’s Oil Industry and Markets Division Head Antoine Halff in his presentation said the oil map is changing. Advances in extractive technology, enabled by years of record-high oil prices, have unleashed in North America a supply revolution of far-reaching consequences. Aside from a potential, but highly uncertain, boom in Iraqi oil production, however, this new supply is largely anchored in the Western Hemisphere, whereas most of the growth in oil consumption is occurring ‘East of Suez’ in places like China, India and Pakistan, the Middle East and the Former Soviet Union. Oil trade flows are being redrawn, a trend further accelerated by deep shifts in global refining capacity and the globalisation of the product trade. Where do these tectonic changes in energy supply leave Pakistan?

He said, this proposed presentation would draw heavily on the International Energy Agency’s Medium Term Oil Market Report (MTOMR), a five-year outlook whose 2013 edition is scheduled to be unveiled in London on May 14, 2013. It would closely follow the report’s launch, and Pakistan would thus be one of the very first countries where the report’s findings are officially presented. The MTOMR plays an important and widely recognized role in bridging the gap between the IEA’s two flagship reports, the influential Oil Market Report, devoted to the short-term outlook, and the World Energy Outlook, focused on the longer term. It is an influential and well-recognised voice in shaping the energy agenda and helping devise the course of energy policy.

From the IEA perspective, a launch presentation in Lahore would cast a welcome spotlight on Pakistan, a dynamic and fast-growing market all too often neglected by oil analysts, and demonstrate the IEA’s commitment to a broad and comprehensive approach to market and industry developments.

Dr Ahmad Hussain from Department of Mechanical Engineering, King Abdulaziz University, Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, in his presentation on ‘Combustion Performance of Low Grade Coals for Sustainable Energy Future’, said Pakistan is projected for steep increase in coal use in the next decade with the construction of more cement plants and several large coals fired power stations. The focus of this projection is to harness the attractive coal deposits in Pakistan, which have not been, utilised much. Relevant advantages in the utilisation of alternative fuels may lead to a gradual replacement of the overuse of the traditional fossil fuels.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the combustion behaviour of low grade coals, from Balochistan like Duki and Chamalung, in a Circulating Fluidised Bed (CFB) riser. Duki coalfield is located in Loralai district. The total reserves of Duki coalfield are estimated at about 13 million tonnes. Chamalung mountain range is situated about 45 kms north of Kohlu in tehsil Duki of Balochistan province in Pakistan.

This is perhaps the first practical experience of evaluating combustion performance of Duki coal in a CFB. The effects of varying the primary air and feed rate have also been analysed and their influence on emissions has been established. The experiments were carried out in a hot CFB installed in NFC-IET, Multan. The system was developed by a grant from government of Pakistan in line with developing a Coal Research Centre at the NFC-IET Multan. The experimental apparatus consisted of a circulating fluidised bed (CFB) type experimental combustor, coal feeder, dust collector, blower and control panel. The CFBC is a vertical tubular furnace having a riser height of about 3,000 mm. The fluidising air is supplied from the bottom and the circulating particles are separated from air by a cyclone and the particles returned to tubular furnace through the loop seal downstream of the furnace. The feed rate from the screw feeder can be adjusted.

Josh and Mak LLP (UK), Executive Director and Founder Barrister Aemen Maluka presented a paper on ‘The Journey From TAPI to IP: Assessing the Prospects for the Future of Energy Trade between Central Asia and Pakistan Based on the Upcoming Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project’.

She said the 1,040 miles long TAPI project was literally in the ‘pipeline’ of the regional agenda for Central Asia, long before the Taliban captured Kabul. In fact as far back in 1995 it was hoped that the TAPI would not only bring the much needed energy security to the region but also threaten the profitability of the Arab and Russian energy markets with its 33 billion cubic metres of capacity as it ran from Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad gas field across Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate at the northwestern Indian town of Fazilka.

Almost two decades later the TAPI has now simmered down to only the IP pipeline after coming a long way through hostile opposition by US after February 2013 after Pakistan has taken the rather brave (yet risky) step of going ahead with the long debated project. This decision comes at a point when India has previously backed out from the IPI deal fearing a US diplomatic cold shoulder and Chinese domination in the region. Also, Iran seems to be stepping into the scene at a point when NATO forces have announced their exit from Afghanistan in 2014 and the resulting fears and reservations of the US in this regard are no secret.

Keeping in mind the above, the paper will see how the IP deal may not be a one-stop panacea for Pakistan’s ongoing energy crisis. Despite its promises for prosperity, the IP has all potential to become a Pandora’s box when regional realities, political preferences and geography interact with a plethora of legal frameworks and foreign policies prevalent in both jurisdictions. From a legal point of view, the devil is in the details of resolving delay and suspension issues in project implementation and evaluation, the applicable/governing laws governing pipeline routes, tariffs and transit fees.

While an inter-governmental framework declaration is said to be in existence since the last two to three years to support the project through a supportive framework of the respective laws and regulations of both countries, it will be interesting to see whether it is solid enough to protect the state and private investors as well as foreign third party investors like Chinese firms.

The greatest legal risk and challenge here is perhaps not only the robustness and effective compatibility of these two legal systems and the way they interact with international law, but also that the gas pipelines deal with Iran will not violate any international laws as Iran continues to have UN sanctions being slammed on it. Is there a chance that Pakistan can ensure through a legal framework and proper legal precautions that any sanctions, insecurity or political risks are not hazardous to its current statement investment and the money. At any rate, if the legal risks arising from any subsequent political instability on the part of both parties are handled in a mature and calculated way through carefully drafted provisions in the legal framework(s) governing the project, the cross border infrastructures and their operations, Pakistan is perhaps in a better position to benefit from any such common economic spaces built with Iran. The possibility of this step being the first step towards the originally envisioned TAPI is not something which can be overruled either, as the IP will be a test case not only for the technicalities within international law but also for those countries who have lately been reluctant to see the same as a profitable investment.

Conference was organised by Pegasus and sponsors included Hi-Tek.

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