CPEC coal projects to revolutionize country’s energy sector

KARACHI (PEN): Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that connectivity between Thar coal and Keti Bandar and Islamkot and Mirpurkhas would help in replacing power plants operating on expensive imported coal with much cheaper Thar coal and thus reducing energy circular debt.

“Great potential exists for connecting Thar coal with Keti Bandar and thus develop Keti Bandar port for coal blending and power generation. In addition, rail connectivity between Islamkot and Mirpurkhas will help in replacing power plants operating on imported coal with much cheaper Thar coal thus reducing the unnerving energy circular debt,” he said.

The chief minister said at CPEC-related 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting held in Islamabad through video link that under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) next level of engagement, Thar Coal should be considered for moving from mine-mouth power generation to coal transportation to potential sites.

He said that his government had been working closely with Chinese on Thar coal-based power projects under the CPEC. “We believe it’s about time we move to the next level by employing Thar coal for coal-to-gas and coal-to-liquid conversion,” he said.

He said that this conversion was crucial for reducing energy sector’s circular debt, ensuring Pakistan’s food security through fertiliser production and meeting energy needs of the country for economic growth.

Shah said that he had discussed these issues at the 9th JCC meeting and it was high time they devised ways and means to implement and capitalise on these potentials, including coal to liquid engineering plant based on Thar coal at Thar Block-IV for coal gasification to fertiliser projects.

Talking about Karachi Circular Railway, the chief minister said that the KCR had been part of all JCCs as it was an integral part of Karachi Transportation Plan. “Different Bus Rapid Transport Systems, which are at various levels of implementation, will improve connectivity but without KCR loop the whole idea remains incomplete,” he said, adding that assurances should be sought from the federal and Chinese governments so that the KCR was kick started.

He said the socio-economic zone of Dhabeji located in proximity to Port Qasim would be ready by August 2021. “We are keen to engage with Chinese investors for investment in already identified sectors of steel, automobile manufacturing, automobile vendors, electronic manufacturing and assembly, food processing, chemical & pharmaceutical, textile and garments,” he said and added “we are committed to substantially increase the area from 1,500 acres for facilitating Chinese investment and industrial relocation”.

He said that Pakistan and China were entering next phase of the CPEC, with greater emphasis on socio-economic uplift, poverty alleviation, agricultural cooperation and industrial development.

He said that his government had already shared 15 projects for socio-economic development under CPEC and he hoped that the projects would be kick-started soon.

“However, we are keen to deepen our engagement in areas of agricultural productivity, agriculture and livestock research, and agro-based industrialisation,” he said.

He said that one specific area for cooperation was biosaline agriculture for coastal districts of Sindh and requested the Chinese government to work with agriculture and livestock departments, growers and chambers’ representatives to facilitate their visits to China and work on specifics of engagements.

Minister for Energy Imtiaz Shaikh and energy secretary Abu Bakar also attended the meeting.