KARACHI - President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday directed the federal government to release required funds for infrastructure and other schemes of the Thar coalfield so that the projects could be completed timely to get the country out of the energy crisis.
Sources said that the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and other officials of the Sindh government informed the President about the status of the Thar coalfield project and financial difficulties facing the provincial government.
The Chief Minister also briefed the President about the delay in the releases of the funds promised by the federal government for the infrastructure projects of the Thar coalfield project.
On the complaints of the Sindh government, President Asif Ali Zardari directed the Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh to release the funds required for the Thar coal project.
Those who were present during the meeting included among others Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, provincial ministers and the officials of Sindh Government and some members of Thar Coal Energy development Board including Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh, MNA Ms Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani, Zafar Mehmood, Federal Secretary Water & Power, Provincial Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah, Irrigation Minister Saifullah Dharejo, Revenue Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, and Managing Director TCEB Rizwan Memon and Mr. Mohammad Sohail Rajput.
President Zardari, while highlighting the impacts of present energy crisis, said that the huge natural resources needed to be explored and harnessed to meet the energy requirements of the country. He said that the government would facilitate local as well as foreign companies who would invest in the energy sector and to assist in harnessing the natural potential of the country.
President Zardari said that Ministry of Water & Power should consider advising all the stakeholders to ensure that the retrofitting of oil based power plants should be done in such a manner that those plants should be compatible with the specifications of Thar coal.
The President also advised NEPRA to consider upfront tariff for coal fired power plants in the country.
Earlier, briefing the meeting, Mohammad Sohail Rajput informed that presently work in four Blocks of Thar Coalfield was at its advance stage. He said that three companies, Global Mining of China, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and Oracle Coalfields UK, have completed their feasibilities for projects of open pit coal mining. In addition a pilot project of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) was also underway under Dr Samar Mubarakmand, he said. He informed the meeting about the progress of the UCG project so far.
It was informed that Global Mining is scheduled to start mine development activities in Block-I by October 2012 which will lead to Mine construction of 5 mtpa by end 2015 and power generation of 900 MW by 2015-16. The total composite cost of the project is $3 billion. The Oracle Coalfield would initiate mine development phase for its $ 860 million mining and power project by early 2013.
The President was informed that Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company is pursuing to achieve the financial close for its $3 billion coal mining and power generation project at Block II of Thar coalfield.
About the underground coal gasification, it was informed that the Planning Commission has conducted project appraisal in June 2012 and decided that pilot project comprising one gasifier should be operationalized for power generation of 8-10 MW electricity within 10 to 12 months. It said that fund amounting to Rs1.8 billion to cover the cost of gas purification plant, power generation units and establishment/O&M charges for one year will be provided.
The meeting was informed that after the successful power generation of 8-10 MW, a complete technical appraisal/review would help in further developing and expanding infrastructure for generation of 100MW of power.
The meeting was also informed about various projects being financed and executed by the Government of Sindh. These projects included improvement and widening of road network of approximately 335km of length from Seaport Karachi to Thar Coalfield Area at the cost of Rs 6.4 b, a project of Rs.9.1b of provision of water from LBOD to Thar Coalfield and treatment at Nabisar, the construction of 50 Cusecs Drainage and Wastage Effluent Channel from Thar Coalfield, construction of Thar Airport at Islamkot and installation of 110 Reverse Osmosis Plants in Thar Coalfield and adjoining areas.
During the briefing, it was informed that Ministry of Water & Power was pursuing policy of conversion of oil-based power plants to coal. These retrofitted plants will be gradually fitted from imported coal to Thar Coal in future.