‘Private sector can help overcome energy crisis’

Published April 9, 2015
"Any project executed by the govt alone will not only be costly, but will take a long time for completion”: Ali Ansari. -Reuters/File
"Any project executed by the govt alone will not only be costly, but will take a long time for completion”: Ali Ansari. -Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The country can overcome energy crisis in the short run but the task can only be accomplished by the private sector, the president of Engro Group, Ali Ansari, said here on Wednesday.

“Any project executed by the government alone will not only be costly, but will take a long time for completion,” he said while speaking at the inaugural session of the Dawn Media Group’s conference on ‘Clean, affordable and reliable energy’.

Mr Ansari said any project executed by the private sector, with the support and collaboration of the government, will be a successful model.

“This is an in-built mechanism. The private sector has the capacity to deal with issues on an urgent basis whereas the projects usually get into trouble when executed by the government agencies,” he said, adding: “This is due to the fact that the public sector does not have the flexibility that the private sector has.”

The conference was informed that Engro had completed a world class liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in a record time of 11 months without any bank loan.

“This was a serious risk, but we did it and there is no compromise on quality as well,” Mr Ansari said. He said the government had plans to execute a project to produce around 3,500MW through LNG but it would be a mistake because government projects had cost and time constraints.

“Eventually, it will be difficult for the government to meet the energy crisis head on.

“But it does not mean that the project should be given to Engro -- there has to be an open bidding and rules need to be followed to invite the private sector.”

He said 54 per cent power production in Pakistan was based on natural gas because the country had surplus gas at one point.

“But now with gas supply on the decline, there is a need for new indigenous sources of energy,” he said, adding: “This would be coal.”

The Thar coal-based power plants were expected to become functional by 2018, he said.

Turkish Ambassador Sadik Babur Girgin said Pakistan could overcome the crisis by adopting conservation policies.

He said development of hydroelectricity and solar power would be helpful as cheap sources of electricity generation.

The speakers said hydroelectricity accounted for 6pc in the world energy mix but was around 30pc in Pakistan mainly due to the Tarbela and Mangla dams.

Dr M.B. Khan of the National University of Science and Technology shared the results of power conservation projects in the textile sector.

Former advisor to the finance ministry Dr Ashfaq Hassan Khan talked about the Pak-China Economic Corridor and said development of communications, including transportation, triggered economic growth which in turn brought investments in the energy sector too.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2015

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