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  • Aug 21st, 2017
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Reducing the use of thermal power sources aimed at achieving a balanced mix for the country''s energy requirements is the objective of the currently under-preparation energy policy by the newly-created Ministry of Energy headed by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The policy is expected to be finalized within the next two weeks, well informed sources told Business Recorder .

On August 8, 2017, Prime Minister while presiding over his maiden meeting on energy sector directed a roadmap be prepared focusing on natural gas and domestic coal for energy production. The purpose of this roadmap would be to shift from expensive thermal power plants to gas by 2019.

When contacted Secretary Ministry of Water Resources and Power Division, Yousaf Naseem Khokhar told this scribe that the day the Prime Minister gave these instructions, a Working Group comprising officials from Power Division and Petroleum Division was constituted to commence work on the preparation of the new plan expeditiously. "We are already moving on fast track basis on the new plan as the Working Group has held three or four meetings in this regard. The execution of the plan depends on the availability of gas and if gas is made available, we have no other better proposition than this," he added.

If the roadmap is implemented as conceived by the Prime Minister, electricity prices in Pakistan will be reduced considerably, said another official. In reply to another question, Secretary Water Resources and Power Division said: "We are moving quickly but we have to prepare a policy which requires careful deliberation. However, I don''t think it will take more than a couple of weeks,"

Prime Minister Abbasi maintains that the government is striving to achieve a balanced mix to meet the country''s energy requirements. Maximum utilization of Thar coal reserves should be ensured to provide affordable energy for consumers. He further stated that it was necessary to remove firewalls between the Petroleum and Power sectors which are otherwise linked to a common objective of energy security in Pakistan.

An official who was part of the meetings being held with the incumbent Prime Minister said that there is no change in policy with the advent of the Abbasi administration. "Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, has presided over just one meeting on energy issues which was a continuation of previous spadework. He might give further instruction in the next meeting," he added.

The main focus of the Prime Minister, sources said, was to expedite ongoing energy sector projects aimed at eliminating electricity load shedding prior to the next general elections expected to be held in 2018. According to Economic Survey 2016-17, the energy imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal along with utilization of domestic resources like Thar coal mines, hydro power stations, nuclear power plants, as well as several solar and wind farms will significantly reduce the country''s reliance on oil in the medium term and improve the energy mix.

Prime Minister, during the meeting on energy sector had also stated that water security is an important concern for the government and people of Pakistan. The government has given priority to the industrial sector and there is uninterrupted power supply to that sector; albeit a small decline in the share of industry in electricity consumption is due to the use of captive power plants run on LNG by large industrial units. When Yousaf Naseem Khokhar was asked when the new Water Policy will be ready for approval, he said that it was on the agenda of the last meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) but was not taken up due to paucity of time, adding that now it will be presented in the forthcoming CCI meeting as Ministry of Water Resources is ready to present it.

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