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Gas also vanishes with power during Sehr, Iftar in Punjab

As a result of an acute shortage in the supply of furnace oil to powerhouses, the electricity shortfall in the country on Saturday soared to unprecedented levels, touching 6,500MW leading to a corresponding spike in unannounced loadshedding. Meanwhile, gas loadshedding particularly at Sehr and Iftar also prompted protests across Punjab

According to the Energy Management Cell (EMC), electricity generation on Saturday stood at 12,431MW while demand increased to 18,517MW. Owing to the gap in supply and demand, loadshedding rose substantially with major power distribution companies including Lesco, Fesco, Gepco and Mepco increasing the duration and frequency of unannounced power outages. — Agencies

Our correspondents add: In Lahore, angry residents took the streets to voice their protest against continuous and unannounced gas and electricity loadshedding. People from all walks of life converged on major roads and set fire to tyres, demanding that the federal government halt the unfair treatment being meted out to Punjab.

Demonstrators also condemned the loadshedding of gas across Punjab cities and towns. “They have no shame, they turn off the power at Iftar and Sehr,” lamented one housewife. “There is no gas to prepare food at the crucial times,” she added. Protesters chanted vociferous slogans against the government and threatened to resort to violence if the menace of loadshedding was not resolved immediately.

In Pakpattan, three policemen including the Faridnagar SHO were injured in a clash with protesters Saturday. Earlier, hundreds of people, including farmers, had blocked roads at Jamal Chowk in protest of 20-hourlong electricity loadshedding. Demonstrators chanted slogans against Wapda for imposing long shutdowns and serving them inflated bills. The police baton charged the protesters when they reached Jamal Chowk. Later, the police resorted to aerial firing to disperse the crowd.

In Nankana Sahib, citizens staged a demonstration and blocked major road arteries by burning tyres to protest 19-hourlong power outages near the DPS School. Protesters pelted the Wapda office with stones, and lamented that unscheduled loadshedding had severely paralysed life. They added that loadshedding peaked at Iftar and Sehr across the district.

Residents in Chakwal also took to the streets to protest increased loadshedding. Businessmen and farmers complained that their livelihood had been destroyed by power outages, and that life had become unbearable given the acute shortage of electricity and soaring summer temperatures. Protesters also lashed out at the practice of discontinuing the supply of gas to homes.

In Kasur, meanwhile, two Lesco officials were injured in a protest against unscheduled loadshedding at the Mustafabad grid station in the limits of the Mustafabad police office. Dozens of residents led by Arshad Ali of the PML-N staged a protest demonstration against unprecedented loadshedding, while several protesters pelted the grid station with stones and rocks. When shift-in-charge Muhammad Sadiq and security guard Muhammad Salah came outside to address the situation, they were injured and were immediately rushed to DHQ Hospital.

Turkmenistan to woo investors for TAPI gas project

Turkmenistan, holder of the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves, said on Saturday it would hold road-shows in September-October for investors willing to take part in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project aimed at shipping Turkmen gas to India via a trans-Afghan pipeline.

Turkmenistan agreed in May to supply natural gas to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan by signing gas sales and purchase agreements with Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems and Indian state-run utility GAIL.

The US-backed, 1,735km TAPI, named after the initial letters of the participant nations, is a major boon for Turkmenistan, which is seeking to diversify its energy exports from its traditional market, Russia.

The project also promises major benefits to the energy-hungry regional rivals India and Pakistan.

“The TAPI project will ensure long-term (annual) shipments of over 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Turkmen natural gas to the countries of Southeast Asia,” state television showed Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov as telling a government meeting late on Friday.

Souring official optimism, many analysts point to TAPI’s 735km leg that would run through the Afghan provinces of Herat and Kandahar, adding that the project would face significant security problems after a planned pullout of the US-led NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

Berdymukhamedov, whose Central Asian nation of 5.5 million people is listed by human rights bodies among the most reclusive and repressive in the world, made no mention of the security challenges facing the long-touted TAPI.

“This will help the economic growth of the TAPI participant states and, more importantly, will contribute to regional peace, stability and security,” said Berdymukhamedov, who enjoys vast powers and a rising personality cult in his ex-Soviet country.

Yagshygeldy Kakayev, head of the state agency for hydrocarbon resources — the body responsible for distributing licences — told the same government meeting that road-shows for potential investors would be held in Singapore, New York and London and would last for 18-20 days in September and October.

The Asian Development Bank had said that the TAPI pipeline was estimated to cost at least $7.6 billion back in 2008. Analysts and officials now say it could cost between $10 billion and $12 billion to construct.

According to estimates by industry experts and government officials, Turkmen gas supplies to Pakistan could begin in 2016 and to India in 2018.

Turkmenistan is promoting TAPI as a key element in plans to boost its annual gas exports to 180bcm by 2030.

Turkmenistan does not disclose data for its current gas exports. BP estimates show that last year the country produced 59.5bcm of natural gas and consumed internally 25bcm.

BP data show Turkmenistan’s natural gas reserves are behind only Russia, Iran and Qatar.

The country aims at supplying gas from its Galkynysh field, better known by its previous name, South Iolotan. Auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates has ranked the field the world’s second largest, with gas reserves of between 13.1 trillion and 21.2 trillion cubic metres.

Pakistan can benefit from Italy’s expertise on renewable energy

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Thursday said Italy’s expertise in renewable energy could make yet another success story of cooperation between the two countries.The Prime Minister mentioned that Thar Coal is another attractive destination for Italian investors.He expressed these views while talking to Italian Ambassador Adriano Chiodi Cianfarani who paid a courtesy call on him at the Prime Minister House here.The Prime Minister emphasized the need for regular high-level exchanges between the two countries.

CDA invites consultants for feasibility study for Power Generation Project

The Capital Development Authority has invited local and international firms to provide consultancy for preparation of feasibility studies, design preparation and supervision of a power generation project to make Islamabad a load-shedding free city.

The CDA has already signed a MoU with a Chinese firm for to extend assistance to CDA in the project execution under which the Authority would install its own 2×100 megawatt power plants to be fired by local coal.

The consultants would be responsible for carrying out the feasibility studies, tender level design, tender documents, bid evaluation, award of contract and supervision of construction activity.The consultancy firms may also associate or form joint venture with local or foreign firms to enhance their qualifications subject to the maximum three firms.

Thar coal is future of Pakistan, Dr Samar tells NA body

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Science and Technology Wednesday asked the government to tap all resources for the Thar coal project and provide funds as proposed by the Planning Commission to overcome the energy crisis in the country. “Thar coal is the future of Pakistan but due to non-availability of required funds, the project was pending,” Dr Samar told the committee.

The committee which met here with Dr Abdul Kadir Khanzada in the chair was briefed by Dr Samar Mubarakmand on the issue of the Thar Coal project and underground coal gasification (UCG) project. He apprised the committee that his team had carried out work on the block-5 project and got successful results in the field.

Dr Samar also informed the committee on the total power generation of the world, worldwide UCG experience, seam depth and thickness, map of exploration and availability of coal in the area. The committee was also briefed about five other Thar coal blocks allotted to local and international companies and three more blocks available for investment.

Dr Samar also updated the committee about drilling rigs in operation and production by it. He also talked about new options for Pakistan with UCG from Thar lignite coal and said with the process of Thar coal they could make power steam, diesel low cost gas, methanol and ammonia urea.

Member Planning Commission informed the committee that he had also examined the project on site and found it practicable. The committee members including Mehmood Bashir Virk, Dr Khatu Mal Jeewan, Anusha Rehman, Shakeel Awan, Zafar Baig Bhittani and Jamshed Dasti supported the Thar coal project.The Annual report of the Pakistan Science Foundation for the year 2009-10, tabled before the house in July 2012, was also presented before the committee.

Govt agrees to pay Rs24bn to IPPs in 3 months

Pakistan government has submitted before the Supreme Court that a payment of Rs24 billion would be made to eight independent power producers (IPPs) in three equal monthly installments of Rs8 billion a month, a representative of the IPPs said on Wednesday.

The first installment will be paid by the government in August, 2012, the IPPs representative told The News.

He said that the court has admitted their submission and has given a two-week deadline to the government for reaching an agreement about payment of remaining undisputed amount over and above Rs24 billion to eight IPPs. An amount of Rs45 billion has been verified as undisputed overdue amount of these IPPs before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has also directed the government not to deduct the capacity payment arising due to the non-payment of overdue amount to the IPPs by the government and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC).

The Supreme Court was hearing the IPPs’ petition against the federal government and the NTDC over the sovereign guarantee default.

The SC had directed the government and the NTDC on July 13, 2012 to reconcile overdue amount with IPPs and inform payment deadlines on July 25, 2012 before the court.

The IPPs and NTDC had several meeting during the last two weeks and reconciled the amount from total default out of which some payments during this time were made by the NTDC.

The NTDC and IPPs had finalised an amount of Rs45 billion to be undisputed overdue outstanding out of which the government has offered to pay these IPPs Rs8 billion every month for the next three months above the regular energy and capacity invoices becoming due during this period. The formula for the rest of the overdue amount will be mutually worked out between the government, the NTDC and the IPPs.

Sindh wind corridor to give 800MW by June 2013

Sindh would add approximately 800 megawatts to the national grid by June 2013, as nine wind projects out of 30 ongoing ones would come online by the time, according to a statement on Wednesday.

Naheed Shah Durrani, secretary of Sindh Board of Investment (SBI), during an internal meeting said that Sindh wind corridor would add approximately 800 megawatts to the national grid by June 2013.

The project was initiated by SBI and the land has been allotted for 30 projects with installed capacity of 1,947 megawatts from the corridor, she said, adding that the corridor possessed immense potential of producing around 50,000 megawatts.

She also briefed members of the board about the level of investment being attracted in diversified sectors of the economy, especially agro processing, livestock, dairy, fisheries and minerals, the statement added.

Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Sindh Board of Investment, said that investment promotion in the province can only be accelerated with collective efforts of public and private sectors.

Serious efforts are being made for containment of energy crisis in Pakistan through multiple measures, he said. Other than promoting investment in the Thar coal, Sindh’s wind corridor, the SBI is working closely with the private sector to examine interventions under solar energy.

Punjab govt making efforts to resolve energy crisis

The Punjab government is making all-out efforts to resolve the ongoing energy crisis and a number of mega hydel projects are in progress to ensure cheaper and uninterrupted power supply, said Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, governor Punjab, on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the governor said that both public and private sectors would have to make joint efforts to overcome the internal and external challenges being faced by the country.

He, however, assured the business community of his full support on all economic issues. Over the issue of most favoured nation (MFN) status to India, Khosa said that local industry’s interests would be safeguarded at every cost.All future economic policies would be evolved with the consultation of the private sector as these people are the real stakeholders and their participation is a must to get desired economic results, he said. Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, president of the LCCI, called for revival of Businessmen Police Liaison Committee (BPLC) and said that the Lahore Chamber is ready to join hands with the police to check crimes, particularly in the commercial areas.

“The deteriorating law and order situation is making a bad image of the country abroad, therefore, the government should collaborate with the private sector to weed out this menace once and for all.”

Loadshedding surges in Ramazan as shortfall reaches 5,500MW

Electricity shortfall in the country soared to 5,500MW Sunday, once again sparking an acute power crisis while citizens braved scorching summer temperatures on the second day of the holy month of Ramazan.

According to sources, loadshedding also increased as a result of the power breakdown. A spokesman for the Energy Management Cell (EMC) attributed the increase in shortfall to a shortage in the provision of furnace oil to power stations as well as the closure of the Chashma-I and Chashma-II plants.

The spokesman further revealed that PSO had slashed the supply of furnace oil due to non-payment of dues, and added that power stations were currently receiving 20,000 tonnes of furnace oil instead of 38,000 tonnes. This had consequently reduced power production to 12,000MW against a demand of 17,500MW, he explained.

As a result of the acute power shortage, many cities remained in the grip of prolonged and unannounced loadshedding lasting up to 13 hours in cities and 16 hours in the rural areas. — SANA

Our correspondent adds from Lahore: Technical faults at Chashma-I and Chashma-II subsequently leading to their closure Sunday and contributed 650MW in the total energy shortfall, reports confirmed. As a result of prolonged power outages and low natural gas pressure during Sehr and Iftar, many citizens suffered and were unable to perform their rituals.

Lahore Electricity Supply Company (Lesco) officials also continued to disconnect electricity to particular areas at will. Kashif Iqbal, a resident of Samanabad, complained that the supply of electricity to his area was disconnected from 7am to 8am, and then again from 810am to 910am. SNGPL also failed to ensure the smooth and uninterrupted supply of gas to domestic consumers at Sehr and Iftar.

Small is beautiful

By Mansoor Raza

In a recently held Youth National Energy Conference organised by the Sindh Youth Affairs Department, a recommendation was made to create wind, solar, alternative energy development and manufacturing authority with an initial fund of Rs 500 million. The necessity of such a recommendation is an outcome of the ongoing energy crisis that need not be detailed here as it would be mere repetition of otherwise commonly known facts. Nevertheless, it is important to mention some striking specifics here:

(1) In the first 10 months of FY12 all power companies across the country produced 74 trillion units and sold 72 trillion units. The gap of two trillion units is on account of technical losses and theft.

(2) From July to May (2011-2012) all power companies in Pakistan billed consumers Rs 895.3 billion while collection remained at only Rs 400.8 billion, which is 47 percent of total billing.

(3) The identified potential of power generation from wind is about 43,000 MW, and from solar energy it is more that 100,000 MW. However, other sources place it at 2.4 million MW.

(4) A four acre piece of land is required to produce one MW of electricity through solar energy.

(5) In Karachi, the KESC has 2,341 MW of installed fleet capacity as well as power purchase agreements for 1,021 MW of power in the form of IPPs and imports.

Recently conducted research by noted social scientist and urban planner, Arif Hasan, seeks to understand the acceptability of alternative energy sources to commercial markets in Karachi. Urdu Bazaar is a much frequented book market in the central business district of Karachi. According to the survey, it has over 400 shops.

Like other markets in the city, it is subject to long periods of load shedding with the result that shopkeepers have opted for alternatives of generators and Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) units. Generators are expensive to buy (average cost Rs 37,500 and per year average for five years comes out to Rs 7,500) and expensive to operate, at an average of Rs 5,882 per month and an annual cost of Rs 70,560. The noise and air pollution they cause is damaging to health and visitors do not like coming into the shop when they are operative.

The UPS on the other hand is cheaper at Rs 20,000 for five years and per year average comes out to 4,000 but with an average running and maintenance cost of Rs 12,240. Moreover, it has a running cost of Rs 1,000 per month.

However, it does not store enough energy to meet the long hours of load shedding and also consumes a considerable amount of energy from the grid. In addition, its acid batteries cause immense air pollution which is difficult to tolerate for a long period of time. Ninety percent of the shopkeepers surveyed are willing to adopt a solar energy option because they understand its environmental and sustainability advantages.

Shopkeepers expressed their concerns as well. Interestingly, they believe that the constraints in providing alternative energy to Urdu Bazaar are not of a financial or technical nature but have more to do with governance issues.

Solar energy providing companies, when contacted, presented their technical and financial proposals. The cheapest offer was Rs 78,000 for two energy savers, one fan and one telephone charging outlet. For two fans, four energy savers and one telephone point, the cost came up to Rs 115,000. One would have thought that these high costs would not be acceptable to the shopkeepers. However, they were willing to pay these costs and some of them were willing to pay more for better service. Shopkeepers insisted that before committing they would like the solar company to put up a demonstration unit. The solar company is willing to do this.

Essential components of solar products are solar photovoltaic systems for converting sunlight into electricity; solar battery for storing electrical energy into the batteries for later on use; and solar inverters to convert the solar generated D.C. electricity into alternating current for running household appliances.

Although solar panels (the key component) now enjoy tariff incentives such as exemption from duties and sales tax, the venture is costly because the cost of importing a complete solar panel is quite high.

Points of action as discussed with solar energy experts and suppliers are:

(1) The state should provide a subsidy on the import of silica based glass solar panels.

(2) Vocational training for the assembly and the maintenance of solar panels/products should be provided.

(3) Awareness raising programmes that could establish a trade-off between conventional sources and solar energy need to be initiated.

(4) In rural areas the use of solar products could be achieved through an existing micro-finance programme.

Solar is doable and its application would reiterate the earlier proven fact that small is beautiful.