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Energy Crisis and Food Security!

27 July, 2011

By Farzana Shah


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In modern history, due to various reasons, the economic power of any state defines her strength and sovereignty. All the world powers are too sensitive about their energy security. Afghanistan is not a energy hub neither it houses any port for the export of the energy resources of the region. But its role is of a conduit and a very critical one. All the energy corridors pass through this country. The center of gravity of ongoing Great Game in the region is also energy and energy corridors. The entire restive scenario in the world involves major energy battles as well. Afghanistan was devastated because one major energy sector giant was not allowed to expand its root by then Afghan government. All major global players have been vying for control over energy resources since decades now. It has played a major role in economic and military development as well. Economic collapse was a major reason for the Russian demise as she had no access to major energy corridors. Recently, the US has indulged into a prolonged and costly war to secure the energy resources of Stans alongwith capturing all the corridors for the transportation of these resources. Energy department is the integral part of the US strategic planning institutes.

China is second most strategically active player in energy arena. To secure her energy corridors through Indian Ocean, China is pursuing a long term strategy of building naval ports and bases in the region on friendly countries’ coastal lines. Chinese energy needs would increase with the time as its industrial complex is still expanding. Energy is the basic requirement for this giant manufacturing house of Asia that inhabits one billion people as well. 

India is among growing economies of the world and third most active player in this game as well. Indian long term economic policy is extremely aggressive both on regional and global axis. Derived by a fanatical idea of becoming one of the major global power players, she is competing with regional developing countries and the established economies in the region at the same time. India has to provide energy to her entire populace along with keep its industrial growth on track. So, she cannot afford to meet these massive demands through imported energy. Feeding one billion people is another issue for India and being an agro-based country, the water requirements are also on the rise with increase in population.

Regional Trends

As geostrategic developments in this part of the world are completely unpredictable so every regional player is busy in planning to exploit the domestic energy potential to its maximum.  Exporting the foreign oil and gas is also among the major trends to keep the economic growth momentum going. India and China are major regional competitors in energy security and, both are leading the regional progress and development race as well. Only reason that they are sustaining it is the consistent investment in energy infrastructure along with robust long term energy policies. China has been sustaining a 10% growth rate since last three decade which has turned it into world’s third largest economy after the US and Japan.

Hydro energy is the most economical mean to get clean energy. India, China, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are working restlessly to harness this resource. Chinese are leading the race in hydro power production as well. How aggressive Chinese are in their hydro energy ambitions can be gauged by a simple fact that total installed capacity of power generation is around 20,000 MW. This includes both hydro and non-hydal means, in China, 3-gorges dam alone has a capacity of producing 22,500 MW. It is world’s largest hydro power project. Apart from that, China is busy in constructing other large hydro power plants. 6 out of world’s 20 largest hydro power plants are located inside China already.

India is also building hydro power plants across the entire swath of country.  Indian water and energy policies are actual demonstration of how water and energy would play a major role in future geopolitical and geostrategic reshaping of the region. Apart from completing hydro projects for her economic needs, Indians have come up with a vicious plan to use water as a strategic weapon against Pakistan by exploiting IWT. Indian water aggression has far reaching strategic implications for Pakistan. It is added a whole new strategic dimension in already tense and volatile strategic environment of the region. Both the countries are already at war against each other on legal and diplomatic axis over this issue and keeping pace of construction of Indian hydro projects on Pakistani rivers, it is evident that a physical engagement is not too far as well on this issue. But India is not the only factor in prevailing water scarcity in the country. Poor planning, non-visionary leadership and foreign meddling in this critical area have played decisive role in prevailing water and energy crisis.

Pakistan and Energy & Water Security

For developing countries like China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh it is difficult to fulfill their energy needs by local resources due to various factors which include a whole range of issues from technical challenges to the political preferences. But, except Pakistan, every other regional player is pursuing the policy to overcome these challenges to utilize local energy resources. There are multiple factors not allowing Pakistan to harness its natural energy, water and food security potential. Major ones are discussed below;

  • No energy security plan: It is nadir of Pakistani policy makers that they seem still oblivious to the fact that energy and water security must be part of the overall national security plan. All the subsequent problems in this area are byproduct of this gross policy failure. Absence of any urgency to take corrective measures is more worrisome aspect. This is era of quiet wars on non-military axes. Water, Energy and food have emerged as new dynamics of security which needs to be incorporated into any strategic planning. Conventional wisdom of warfare is becoming extinct apace now and Islamabad will have to embrace to the new paradigms of national security and social stability which revolve around these new security dynamics. So far, this is missing a missing link in Pakistan’s long term security planning.  
  • Poor planning & mismanagement: Pakistan’s largest water reservoir and hydro power plant was built some 35 years ago. Not a single high or even medium capacity hydropower plant has been built since then. Neither any new water reservoir was built after Tarbela. Political interests were preferred at the cost of Pakistani interests by political and military regimes in Islamabad. Pakistan has ample amount of natural resource to cater national food, water and power security but absence of a visionary leadership is preventing the exploitation of these resources to maximum. It is a painful fact that a country is importing rental power house while having the potential to produce 40,000 MW of cheapest and cleanest electricity by Indus alone. Not building any new reservoir has devastated food security as well. With an exponentially fast growing population, Pakistan has been failed to keep the land cultivation rate in sync with requirement and the danger of food scarcity is becoming quite conspicuous. Water security situation is even worse than food and energy. Per capita water availability is touching all time low and this perilous trend would continue unless Pakistan adopts some radical watershed management policy.
  • Water terrorism of India: India is making sure that she gets absolute control over Pakistani rivers by exploiting IWT’s provision. Strategy is to build small dams and reservoirs downstream to each other on same river while keeping their design parameters within the provisions of IWT so that any Pakistani move to stop the construction of dams can be prevented. India is going to have total and complete control over Pakistan’s Western rivers to create drought or flood. The entire Indus basin is the target. Indian policy makers have expressed their satisfaction over this strategy to render Pakistan into a barren land. Unfortunately, Islamabad is trying to gauge the damage while India is busy in completing the dams and reservoirs on Pakistani rivers.
  • Latest Indian move is on Jhelum river, where India is vigorously building Kashan-Ganga dam which on its completion would turn whole Neelam valley of AJK into desert and would severely degrade Pakistan’s Neelam-Jhelum project. Both previous and current governments failed to check and prepare a proper response to this Indian project. Previously, multiple dams were built on Chenab and now India is in position to control its flow towards Pakistan for days. Pakistani government failed to respond Indian madness and now whole link canal system of Pakistan has been endangered!  

The Game

Pakistan is the gateway to Eurasia. Gawadar port is nearest trade and transfer hub for energy resources from entire Eurasia to rest of the world. No trade or energy transfer is possible to and from Indian Ocean bypassing Pakistan. This is unique strength of Pakistan’s geography but, at the same time, this also serve as the most alluring strategic attraction for all major global players. Baluchistan is critically sensitive province in this rambling. The US war in Afghanistan is geared towards securing an energy trade corridor from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This makes Pakistan a primary target for the US. Just like all other axes, Pakistan is under assault on energy and water axis as well. The anti Pakistan elements have managed to take away Pakistan from its lifeline i.e. economy and have been trying to prevent to undertake following critical energy infrastructure projects;

1. To deprive Pakistan from making the hydro electric dams, Kalabagh and Bhasha, both could generate Rs 500 billion per year and associated agriculture boost of Rs 300 billion per year. The export boost up due to the energy is translated in to Rs 850 billion in terms of foreign exchange. Both dams can generate 10,000 MW which is more than enough to meet Pakistan’s energy needs.

2. The IPI pipeline is critical for the economic lifeline of Pakistan. Having world’s 2nd largest energy hub at our doorsteps, Pakistan could import much cheaper energy than oil but this project was delayed unnecessarily till July this year to be materialized by a confused government in Islamabad. Iran had completed construction on their side to Pakistan’s border years ago but it took Islamabad three years before government gave final go ahead last month for this all critical pipeline. Construction work is yet to commence.

IPI Route
  • As per original plan, the 2,775-kilometre (1,724 mi) pipeline was to be supplied from the South Pars field.
  • It will start from Asalouyeh and stretch over 1,100 kilometres (680 mi) through Iran.
  • In Pakistan, it will pass through Baluchistan and Sindh. In Khuzdar, a branch would spur-off to Karachi, while the main pipeline will continue towards Multan. From Multan, the pipeline may be expanded to Delhi.

Initially, the statistics show that if we construct our part of pipe line from Iranian border to Karachi, 22 billion cubic meter per year gas will be ready by the from Iran side which can save up to US$ 10 billion per year (Rs 850 billion per year). But no progress is made to build the gas pipe line. Pakistan’s two gas distribution companies SNGPL and SSGC are fully capable to construct the cross country pipe line immediately. That potential needs to be exploited as Iran is looking to export the gas to china as well. A little calculation may lead us to make independent budget for Pakistan. The total annual saving are around Rs 2500 billion for above mentioned three projects.

Comparison of regional gas reserves

Pakistan’s Major field reserves  21.6 TCF

Sui   2.84 TCF

Qadirpur 2.88 TCF

Uch   4.26 TCF

Manzalai 1.759 TCF

Kandara 1.85 TCF

Mari   4.23 TCF

Zamzama 1.37 TCF

Iran, total 1000TCF

South Pars (500 TCF; 13250×109m³)

North Pars (59 TCF; 1565×109m³)

Kish Gas Field (58 TCF; 1560×109m³)

Golshan Gas Field (45 - 55 TCF; 1325×109m³)

Tabnak (21.2 TCF; 562×109m³)

Russia, 1930TCF Worlds largest

Urengoy gas field (385 TCF; 10,200×109m³)

Yamburg gas field (198 TCF; 5,242×109m³)

Bovanenkovskoe field (166 TCF; 4,400×109m³)

Leningradskoye field (151 TCF; 4,000×109m³)

Rusanovskoye field (151 TCF; 4,000×109m³)

Zapolyarnoye gas field (132 TCF; 3,500×109m³)

Shtokman field (113 TCF; 3,000×109m³)

Arctic field (104 TCF; 2,762×109m³)

Astrakhanskoye field (102 TCF; 2,711×109m³)

West Kamchatka shelf (86,8 TCF; 2,300×109m³)

Medvezhye field (83 TCF; 2,200×109m³)

Yurubchen (73.7 TCF; 2,100×109m³)

Kharasoveiskoye field (62.5 TCF; 1,900×109m³)

Orenburgskoe field (62.5 TCF; 1,900×109m³)

Kovykta field (62.5 TCF; 1,900×109m³)

3. The Thar coal can generate 10,000 MW up to 30 years.  This can be translated into Rs 500 billion per year. But here too, government is unwilling to release the funds required for the pilot project of coal gasification. Dr. Sammar Mubbarak Mand, renowned nuclear scientist, had to come to media to tell the masses that he will have to buy high pressure composers from the scrap markets of Lahore and Karachi as government is not releasing the required funds for these compressors. There is a clear complicity on government’s part in destroying this critical energy project. 

4. The nuclear power is one of the best options we have to cater the future energy requirements. Presently, Pakistan is generating 688 MW after the induction of 2nd power plant at Chashma nuclear energy complex. In weapons, 99% enrichment level is required where as for the nuclear fuels only 7-10 enrichment is sufficient for power generation. Pakistani scientists and technicians are well equipped to run nuclear power plants. They have been managing the Karachi nuclear power plant for last many years. Today, the world’s top economies like the US, China and Japan are heavily dependent upon nuclear energy along with conventional resources. If we manage to generate 10,000 MW the total economic impact comes to Rs 1,000 billion per year. But Pakistan is faced with global duality and duplicity. India was given exclusive treatment by relaxing international nuclear control regimes to allow India to become the part of international nuclear club whereas Pakistan is being pressed to cut nuclear energy projects, even those which have no connection with military usage. The net effect of all above mentioned projects are around Rs 4,000 billion per year. It is worth mentioning here that Iran, despite having world’s 2nd largest gas reserves, is heading towards the nuclear power energy. Why Pakistan not opting for nuclear power despite of having sufficient human resource in this regards?

5. On water, Pakistan is at war with India. India is pursuing a heinous water policy to render Pakistan into desert. Top Indian leadership has expressed their water ambitions vis-à-vis Pakistan for more than once. Pakistani rivers flowing from Kashmir to Pakistan are not the only target in this Indian frenzy to block Pakistani waters. Now, Indians have taken their war to next level and aggressively working with Afghan government to build 12 dams on Kabul river as well.  This is extremely alarming development, more alarming is the reaction and response by Islamabad where planning division, foreign office and government has no strategic plan to secure Pakistani waters. 

6. Latest development in this massive strategic game against Pakistan is the direct foreign meddling into Pakistan’s critical energy infrastructure. Americans are too keen to “assist” Pakistan in energy and water issues. The US is a strategic partner of India in 21st century and interests of Pakistan and the US are mutually exclusive. The US would never prevent India from violating IWT. Under these circumstances, there must be no foreign intervention of any kind in energy infrastructure development projects particularly from USAID and other American organizations. 

Strategic Impact

•Industry: It is already taking major hit. Thousands of industrial units have been shut downed in Punjab and Sindh. Small and medium entrepreneurs are the largest victims. Medium scale industry contributes heavily in national GDP but in Pakistan it has been affected badly due to prevailing energy crisis. Pakistan is failing in harnessing massive HR pool as there are no jobs there for them.

  • Agriculture: Pakistan is among the countries with lowest per acre yield of all important crops. All regional countries are performing better than Pakistan.
  • Per capita Water: Pakistan was among the most prosper countries with respect to water security when it came into being. Now, after 64 years, the situation has been reversed. Water scarcity is reaching breath taking level. Latest estimates about per capita water income also showing some alarming picture.
  • High cost / competitive disadvantage in global export market:  Pakistani textile and other export industries are facing a stiff challenge in international market due to higher productivity cost than the regional and international competitors. Local industries have to produce their own electricity as WAPDA has failed to cater their demands. The crisis has gotten so severe that no short term solution can be implemented. Though the install capacity is more than the demand of the industry but as corruption and financial misstatement has shaken the entire country so WAPDA is forced to shut down number of units. Apart from that, IPPs are providing the electricity at much higher cost that local industry cannot sustain. Consequently, Pakistani exporters are finding themselves in an extremely uneasy position while competing with others.
  • Towards Civil war / riots and chaos: Current energy crisis is so severe that numbers of local and foreign studies are hinting a social uprising and chaotic civil environment due to it. Violent demonstrations and energy riots have taken place in Faisalabad , Lahore and Sialkot already. Karachi is in grip of fear already due to law and order situation but energy crisis has affected the city of Quaid the most. Karachi is economic hub of Pakistan and any chaos there would be devastating for the whole economy.

Recommendations

  • Water and Energy infrastructure development must be on the lines of strategic assets. Unless Pakistan bring about this decisive change in overall national security policy by integrating energy, food and water into it, current situation would only get worse than what it already is.
  • For Energy sector, IP gas pipeline is the most critical infrastructure project which must be executed without any further delay. Inclusion of China into this project would lead to more close co-operation on regional level. This is must do job to deter the US influence in the regional energy game.
  • Pakistan has no food security policy. There has been no survey since 1947 to estimate the future demands of wheat, rice, livestock and other food items which are consumed by public in bulk. Resultantly, Pakistan’s food security is entirely dependent of natural factors and regional politics. A good season gives bumper crop but in drought situation changes dramatically. This is a dangerous trend and must be reversed ASAP.
  • Exporting surplus wheat is also a disturbing trend regarding food security. Pakistan must build adequate food preservation centers so that country does not face any major food crisis under any circumstances.
  • On water, Pakistan will have to make some prompt and tough decision. Mega dams cannot be delayed anymore. Pakistani governments during the last 5 years have announced the work on Pasha dam on three different occasions. But fact is no physical work is taking place there. On the other hand, India is building multiple dams on each Pakistani rivers to get control over the water flow. Pakistani diplomacy has failed tremendously. It is time that military establishment take this critical issue in its own hands and take decisive measures to prevent India from further damage.
  • Pakistan must sign a water sharing agreement with Afghanistan as well. Right now, Pakistan has no legal right to object Indian projects on river Kabul. This has been delayed dangerously already.     

End.

Reader Comments:

Immediate Solution

Amongst many available technical solution to energy starved Pakistani economy the best are ones which require the least amount of money for energy infrastructure development and can be done in minimum time span. This issue is very vital since if Pakistan fails to reach (export oriented) economic growth goal of above 7% per year a social melt down with catastrophic effects becomes inevitable (signs already there). Unfortunately the cornerstone of any modern economy with a rapid growth rate is access to massive energy resources. Pakistan has two options in this regard. One is production of energy locally. This option is going to be very time consuming and would need huge investments of money. Any respectable sized powerplant would need atleast 5 years to be built and on average it would cost 1 billion dollar for every thousand Megawatt capacity (One billion for modern gas fired powerplants and upto 10 billion for a modern nuclear power plant). Pakistan does not have enough hydrocarbon resources to sustain such energy level productions. So allowing IPPs to establish cheap powerplants running on diesel and furnace oil is suicidal. The coal reserves of Pakistan though much hyped in media are actually of a very poor (Lignite) quality not suited to sustain a large economy at any rate. Wind and solar energies are similarly hyped, no large economy in a country the size of Pakistan is running on wind and solar energies in the world. Dams aside from their political infighting can not meet our entire demands even if we build dams on every river. Total Pakistan's potential hydro power is estimate at 40,000 MW which is going to be very seasonal and not dependable at any rate with some years in drought and others rainy. Though Pakistan has the technology to manufacture nuclear devices, currently it does not have the technology to build power plants which is completely a different technology altogether. Pakistan will either have to import nuclear power plants or start serious long term research to develop a home grown nuclear power plant industry with both of these options being exceedingly expensive, something which Pakistani economy can not afford. You see as per United Nations, a modern state needs atleast one kilowatt electricity generation capacity per person. This capacity allows for industrial, commercial and domestic requirements of society and is considered the minimum since out of this one kilowatt, we also have to subtract line losses, powerplant shutdowns for maintenance and other technical considerations. Pakistan with current populaiton of 190 million would need atleast 190,000 MW of capacity. Right now we have just 20,000. With growing population (In 2050, population will be 360 million), Pakistan would need to build over 250 powerplants each with 1000 MW capacity in the next three decades. This would mean hundreds of billions of dollars.

Right now besides energy issues Pakistan has other areas as well which need massive funding in order to bring up Pakistan as an economic power. In health Pakistan has one of the highest maternal/ child mortality rates and low life expectancy/hygiene in the world due to underfunded health projects. In education we have one of the highest number of children out of school. In infrastructure we have a failing system of roads, inter and intra city transport (Railway is almost dying), very inadequate social services etc. So with all these Pakistan can not go and spend all of its money on energy projects or else it will risk becoming bankrupt. So what is the solution:

The best solution is for Pakistan to stop thinking about energy in local terms. Pakistan has to go international. The best option for Pakistan is to make a comprehensive agreement with Iran a country that has over 360 billion barrel of oil equivalent in the form of natural gas and oil. Besides Iran has rapidly growing electricity generation capacity with surplus energy on the grid. These can be regarded as gifts for Pakistan if we smarten up. Building thick gas and oil pipelines from Iran will cost Pakistan just a few billion dollars. Adding to that half a dozen 500 KV large electricity transmission lines will cost just a few billion dollars more. All these projects can be finished in just 4 years if the government is serious. All Pakistan's energy problems can be solved this way without having to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and wasting decades to build political dams which are not only detrimental to our environment but also to our national unity. Pakistan and its economy can not wait anymore. But more importantly people of Pakistan can not wait any longer. Many nations import their energy. US imports from Venezuela, Canada and Saudi Arabia. Turkey imports from Iran and Azerbaijan. Spain imports electricity from France and oil from Nigeria. Pakistan should also form a comprehensive energy policy and come to a long term agreement with Iran. This is the only economically viable solution for Pakistan.

Ali Shahzad, Pakistan - 28 July, 2011

wonderful

Ms. Shah thank you for a wonderful insight on energy issue. It is vital for Pakistan's survival and govt must heed such insight on this issue.

Naveed, Pakistan - 28 July, 2011

Indians agenda to destabalize Afghan-Pak

I really appreciate Farzana Shah by unveiling the aggressive design of Indian water intercession and posing threat to Pakistan from both sides east & west.
I think the root cause of growing insurgency in the region is sponsored by India to destabilize Pakistan, the so called development projects are continued in Afghanistan to make US happy, but putting blames on Pakistan's involvement in Terrorism.

Asad Khan Betini, Pakistan - 28 July, 2011

Our problems are of our own making

We blame India for all our problems - why is it that our own politicians could not make out India was making a Dam in the first place?

Our leaders are not even able to make a single MW of electricity project while karachi remains without electricity for 10 hours every day!!!

Karachi is suffering from Feudal strikes that has killed more than 1000 people this year alone

Can we compare ourselves with a city like, say, Mumbai - which is slowly becoming a world financial center?

Instead of blaming India or Afghanistan - why can't we do things to build our country first?

India has left us far behind because we only blame others - and do nothing to solve our problems!!

Our cities are rotting, we have no power, we have no gas, we are highly weaponized, our politics is purely sectarian, our millitary is corrupt and untouchably and the world recongizes us ONLY as a terror hub - those ladies and gentlemen are facts we have to realize!!

Made in Pakistan is a label no one wants to associate with. If we have to rise as a strong power - we have to stop blaming others and realize :
SALVATION LIES WITHIN!!!

Imran Khaleel, Pakistan - 02 August, 2011

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