PM announces formation of Govt-Industry Energy Council to address energy challenges

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Sunday terming energy as an essential driver of country’s economy announced formation of a Government-Industry Energy Council to address country’s energy issues and make far-reaching reccomendations for the government.Addressing the inaugural session of the three-day Energy Conference convened to highlight key energy issues confronting the country and suggest possible solutions, Gilani said the government cannot tackle the energy related issues single handedly and needs assistance of the industry to move forward.Gilani while endorsing Petroleum Institute of Pakistan’s role as a permanent member of this council, urged the major players of the industry to come forward and play a befitting role in country’s development and economic prosperity. He said a team effort was required for a mutually rewarding and strategic partnership between the government and the energy sector as he firmly believed that the industry was capable of turning the tide and delivering results.

Gilani also expressed the hope that the foreign investors and participants would facilitate technology transfer, fom international joint ventures, and bring foreign investment to Pakistan’s energy industry.  Prime Minister Gilani said to achieve accelerated GDP growth, the economy needs reliable, uninterrupted, and affordable supply of energy.He said Pakistan today was facing the overwhelming task of bridging its energy demand and supply gap that was likely to double in the next 15 years unless attended urgently by all the stakeholders, including the private sector and the government.The Prime Minister said “Fuelling the Future” therefore requires finding new oil and gas reserves through aggressive exploration activities, optimizing production from existing fields by applying cutting-edge technology, enabling gas imports from across the borders via regional pipelines and LNG shipments.He said the Government was encouraging foreign investments in energy infrastructure development and in a broader context, development of alternate sources of energy and energy conservation, for a sustainable energy supply.He said Pakistan was an energy-deficit country, meeting nearly 90% of its oil requirement through imports.“Our government is also trying to move fast to start importing natural gas via LNG and regional pipelines in the near future to offset the growing gas deficit in the country,” the prime minister said.

He said the government was struggling to keep up with an increasing energy import bill which has adversely affected country’s trade deficit and pointed that it was difficult for the government to pass on the full impact of the rising international oil prices to the people.“Being an elected government, we are walking a tight-rope, balancing the public’s expectations and the economic rationale of reducing subsidies on energy.”He said development of local energy sources, including hydel projects and the Thar coal-fields, also remains a high priority for this government.He said the government has already added 1700 MW in the national  electricity grid during las three years and many more power projects were at various stages of development. “We have even resolved the basic problem which had held us back in utilizing the vast coal reserves in Sindh for producing energy,” he said.Gilani said the Sui Field at the time of discovery in the fifties was believed to have enough natural gas reserves to last for two centuries, however due to rapid growth in demand and depleting reserves from this gas field the situation has changed.He said despite several gas discoveries since then, the growth in energy demand was more than the gas supply from domestic sources and pointed that the country was already experiencing load management measures being taken by the gas distribution companies to balance the current supply and demand situation.

He said the share of natural gas as one of the primary energy source has increased from 40 percent in 1999 to 60 percent in 2010 and currently the entire domestic natural gas production was being consumed while providing for approximately 50 percent of total energy requirements. The Prime Minister said holding of the international event being clearly indicated the priority accorded to highlighting the country’s energy issues by the Petroleum Institute being the representative body of the most important public and private sector companies in the oil & gas sectors of the country.  He said Pakistan today faced a number of challenges including security issues arising from its fight against terrorism and a growing trade deficit as a result of rising energy prices globally.The Prime Minister said though the challenges have caused financial constraints in the country, the government was however determined to face these in the same way as was being done in the political arena.Gilani said high economic growth, reduction in poverty levels and  improvement in country-wide literacy remain important and achievable targets for this government.He said the government was taking necessary steps in the short-term to reach these goals and in the long-term will strengthen the relevant institutes  in the country to bring about sustainable change for the betterment of the people.

He said the Energy Conference that will have working sessions on oil & gas exploration & production, LNG imports, development of Thar coal-fields, power sector progress, oil infrastructure development and safety recommendations for the energy sector.Gilani said he looked forward to good recommendations coming from these sessions, and urged the Petroleum Institute of Pakistan to deal with these recommendations through the Energy Council.Gilani also assured that the government would work with the stakeholders on the implementation of mutually acceptable agenda.The event also saw the formal launch of the 2011 Pakistan Energy Outlook  Document.The conference while noting the almost 80 per cent growth in Pakistan’s  energy requirement in the past 15 years from 34 million tons oil equivalent (TOE) in 1994-95 to 61 million TOE in 2009-10 would deliberate on ways to find a way out to find cost effective solutions.The country’s energy supply currently comes primarily from indigenous  natural gas which is 45% of the energy mix and oil imports at 35% of the energy mix, with the balance from hydel at 12%, coal at 6% and nuclear at 2% of the mix respectively.Chief Executive Officer of Petroleum Institute of Pakistan (PIP) Saleem  Piracha presented an overview of the Pakistan Energy Vision 2011-2026, while Chairman PIP Zaiviji Ismail, Country chairman of Shell Pakistan spoke about the energy need, demand and the measures being taken to meet the shortfall. APP