Dhaka, Tuesday, August 14, 2018 02:52 PM   
     
Home Energy BD Energy World Green Energy Opinion Interview Environment Business Others Archive
LATEST >
বাংলা সংস্করণ
   
Pakistan turns to China in energy binge

When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to office in 2013, rolling power outages across the country were plunging homes and businesses into darkness for up to 12 hours a day.

Now the Pakistani leader is betting on a $21 billion Chinese-backed splurge on energy projects to boost the economy—and his re-election bid.

More than 10,000 Chinese workers are now building at least 10 partly Beijing-financed energy projects across Pakistan that are set to grow the country’s energy output by 60% within two years in the first major boost to supply in two decades.

Sharif’s government plans to inaugurate a nuclear plant this month and a pipeline network in January that will carry large-scale gas imports upcountry.

“Never in the history of Pakistan has there been such a big package of electricity plants in the pipeline,” said Syed Akhtar Ali, in charge of energy at the Planning Commission, the ministry tasked with long-term development.

Sharif’s promise to solve the electricity crisis propelled him to office at a time when the energy deficit was knocking some 2 percentage points off growth, economists say, stifling industry and leaving school children to study by candlelight.

Pakistan’s economic growth has risen to almost 5% annually under Mr. Sharif and his government set a 7% target for the years ahead. That, his government hopes, will boost the moribund private sector, reduce unemployment and provide youth with more alternatives to extremism.

The energy plan is a centerpiece of that economic aspiration. Sharif is racing to fulfill his pledge and become the first incumbent to be re-elected in a country whose voters—or the interventionist military—have long ousted its leaders for their poor performance.

Sharif, who led Pakistan twice before in the 1990s, hasn’t previously even completed a term in office.

“Electric power is going to be the swing factor in the election,” said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the minister for petroleum. “If we don’t deliver on power, we won’t be seen as having delivered.”

Sharif’s plan depends heavily on ​China, which​ is translating its long-term strategic ties with Pakistan into an economic partnership, part of a broader infrastructure push across Eurasia.

China is financing many plants as commercial investments. But to expedite projects, the Pakistani government is funding ​some​ power stations in the run up to the election, including three gas-fired plants in Mr. Sharif’s home province of Punjab. The eventual aim is to more than double Pakistan’s current output of around 16,000 megawatts.

By comparison, Washington’s multibillion-dollar civilian aid program for Pakistan has been far less ambitious, adding 1,000 megawatts to the country’s power generation in recent years by enhancing existing power stations.

The plan is to add 10,000 megawatts of the new China-backed infrastructure, a mixture of coal, gas and hydro electricity, by early 2018, months before elections, at a cost of $21 billion. The schedule is tight. The massive amounts of natural gas and coal needed for the plants require an extensive delivery system of ports, pipelines and railways. The country also needs to upgrade its power distribution network to be able to carry the extra electricity.

“My concern is that gaps in longer term planning, including much needed structural, regulatory and market reforms, will once again fall by the wayside in the euphoria of having achieved a temporary electricity supply surplus,” said Jamil Masud, a partner at Hagler Bailly Pakistan, an energy consultancy,

The projects could become a political issue. The Chinese-financed plants enjoy a generous return guaranteed by Islamabad. Less highly populated provinces complain that Mr. Sharif’s Punjab has scooped an unfair share of the projects. Beyond the election, billions of dollars of more Chinese power projects are also planned.

At Karachi’s Port Qasim, a $2 billion coal-fired plant is taking shape. After only 1.5 years under construction, one 400-foot high cooling tower is up and the second is almost complete. The hulking metal frames for the boilers are in place and a jetty for imported coal is taking shape. Around 4,000 people work on the site, 24 hours a day—half of them Chinese workers who aren’t allowed to step outside its boundary.

On the other side of the port, a massive tanker ship serves as a terminal for liquefied natural gas imports, which are piped across Pakistan. Three more terminals are planned by the government.

The Chinese hope that, over time, greater economic success for its Pakistani ally will act as a source of stability and help to de-radicalize society, said Andrew Small, author of The China-Pakistan Axis.

“If you have a more normalized Pakistani economy and closer economic linkages within the region, this will at least mitigate some of the long standing conflictual tendencies that exist there,” he said.

Print Friendly and PDF

   You may also like

Category: Regional
India’s state power plants resume coal imports amid domestic shortages

Category: Regional
How India faces heat as global oil boils

Category: Regional
India keen on alliance with China, Japan, Korea to bargain for better oil deals

Category: Regional
Adani builds coal-fired power plant in India to send energy to Bangladesh

Category: Regional
Rosatom to train Indian engineers at a jointly set up centre in Ranchi

Category: Regional
Solar power price slump casts shadow on India`s green future

Category: Regional
Russia signs agreement with India for construction of the third phase of Kudankulam nuke plant

Category: Regional
India becomes 2nd largest LPG importer

Category: Regional
Myanmar-China oil pipeline nears start-up
     
    RECENT STORIES   MOST READ
    FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK
    Recent Regional Stories
India’s state power plants resume coal imports amid domestic shortages
How India faces heat as global oil boils
India keen on alliance with China, Japan, Korea to bargain for better oil deals
Adani builds coal-fired power plant in India to send energy to Bangladesh
Rosatom to train Indian engineers at a jointly set up centre in Ranchi
Solar power price slump casts shadow on India`s green future
Russia signs agreement with India for construction of the third phase of Kudankulam nuke plant
India becomes 2nd largest LPG importer
Myanmar-China oil pipeline nears start-up
IEA ties with India continue to strengthen


Explore the energynewsbd.com
Home
Energy World
Opinion
Environment
Others
Energy BD
Green Energy
Interview
Business
Archive
About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy Advertisement Policy