SWABI/LAHORE – Reiterating his government’s commitment to extend full help and cooperation in resolving the energy crisis faced by Pakistan, US Ambassador Richard Olson said on Tuesday that US was in favour of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.
“We have a clear policy over Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline,” Olson said, addressing a gathering during his visit to Tarbela Dam on Tuesday.
With the financial assistance of USAID, the Wapda has completed first phase of the rehabilitation of Tarbela Hydel Power Station, restoring 128 megawatt (MW) electricity to the system.
Pakistan and Iran in recent past signed an agreement in Islamabad to complete the project while President Asif Ali Zardari also paid a visit to the neighbouring country last week to discuss the pipeline and to extend relationships with Iranian leadership.
The US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell while commenting over the project on Wednesday had said it was in Pakistan’s best interest to avoid any sanctionable activity.
Pakistan is facing a severe energy crisis which has damaged its industrial setup specially the textile industry.
“We will help Pakistan to complete Gomal Zam and Sadpara dams,” he said and added that the US wanted the Pakistanis to lead a better life.
He said that US funding in different energy projects would provide employment to thousands of Pakistanis.
Ambassador Olson said “The United States understands that Pakistan is facing an energy crisis and we are committed to doing our part. The work completed here at Tarbela contributes enough electricity to supply two million customers and will provide relief to those suffering from extensive power shortages.”
The ambassador added that the US will be the largest fund provider for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
To restore electricity generation at Tarbela, the USAID provided $ 16.5 million to Wapda to repair three power generation units and to train staff to operate the upgraded equipment.
The Authority Chairman Syed Raghib Shah while briefing the US ambassador said, “We appreciate the support of the United States to energy sector in Pakistan. Projects like these will help minimise power shortages in the country.” Dilating upon the two-pronged strategy for optimal utilisation of hydel resource, the chairman said that Wapda was not only constructing the new projects but also rehabilitating and up-grading its aging power houses.
Besides adding a good quantum of electricity to the system to cater for increasing demand, Wapda projects would also help provide cheap electricity to the people, he added.
The Wapda spokesman said that relieving Pakistan’s energy crisis was a top priority of US. In addition to Tarbela, he added, the United States is also funding other high impact projects in hydropower sector such as rehabilitation of the Mangla Power Station. “The US government is also co-financing the Gomal Zam and Satpara dams which will add another 35MW electricity and irrigate more than 200,000 acres of land,” said the spokesman.