Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday energy was an essential driver of country’s economy.
He announced the formation of a Government-Industry Energy Council to address country’s energy issues and make far-reaching recommendations for the government.
Addressing the inaugural session of the three-day Energy Conference convened to highlight key energy issues and suggest possible solutions, Gilani said the government cannot tackle the energy related issues single hand.
Gilani also expressed the hope that the foreign investors and participants would facilitate technology transfer, from international joint ventures, and bring foreign investment to Pakistan’s energy industry.
Prime Minister Gilani said the economy needs reliable, uninterrupted, and affordable supply of energy to achieve accelerated GDP growth.
He said Pakistan today was facing the overwhelming task of bridging its energy demand and supply gap that was likely to double in the next 15 years unless attended urgently by all the stakeholders, including the private sector and the government.
The Prime Minister said “Fuelling the Future” therefore requires finding new oil and gas reserves through aggressive exploration activities, optimizing production from existing fields by applying cutting-edge technology, enabling gas imports from across the borders via regional pipelines and LNG shipments.
He said the government was encouraging foreign investments in energy infrastructure development and in a broader context, development of alternate sources of energy and energy conservation, for a sustainable energy supply.
He said Pakistan was an energy-deficit country, meeting nearly 90 percent of its oil requirement through imports.
“Our government is also trying to move fast to start importing natural gas via LNG and regional pipelines in the near future to offset the growing gas deficit in the country,” the prime minister said.
He said the government was struggling to keep up with an increasing energy import bill which has adversely affected country’s trade deficit, he pointed that it was difficult for the government to pass on the full impact of the rising international oil prices to the people.
He said development of local energy sources, including hydel projects and the Thar coal-fields, also remains a high priority for this government.
The government has already added 1700 MW in the national electricity grid during last three years and many more power projects were at various stages of development, he added.
Gilani said the share of natural gas as one of the primary energy source has increased from 40 percent in 1999 to 60 percent in 2010 and currently the entire domestic natural gas production was being consumed while providing for approximately 50 percent of total energy requirements.
The Prime Minister said holding of the international event being clearly indicated the priority accorded to highlighting the country’s energy issues by the Petroleum Institute being the representative body of the most important public and private sector companies in the oil & gas sectors of the country.
He said Pakistan today faced a number of challenges including security issues arising from its fight against terrorism and a growing trade deficit as a result of rising energy prices globally.
The Prime Minister said though the challenges have caused financial constraints in the country, the government was however determined to face these in the same way as was being done in the political arena.
Gilani said high economic growth, reduction in poverty levels and improvement in country-wide literacy remain important and achievable targets for this government.
He said the government was taking necessary steps in the short-term to reach these goals and in the long-term will strengthen the relevant institutes in the country to bring about sustainable change for the betterment of the people.
He said the Energy Conference that will have working sessions on oil & gas exploration & production, LNG imports, development of Thar coal-fields, power sector progress, oil infrastructure development and safety recommendations for the energy sector.
Gilani said he looked forward to good recommendations coming from these sessions, and urged the Petroleum Institute of Pakistan to deal with these recommendations through the Energy Council. Gilani also assured that the government would work with the stakeholders on the implementation of mutually acceptable agenda.
The event also saw the formal launch of the 2011 Pakistan Energy Outlook Document.
The conference while noting the almost 80 percent growth in Pakistan’s energy requirement in the past 15 years from 34 million tons oil equivalent (TOE) in 1994-95 to 61 million TOE in 2009-10 would deliberate on ways to find a way out to find cost effective solutions.
Chief Executive Officer of Petroleum Institute of Pakistan (PIP) Saleem Piracha presented an overview of the Pakistan Energy Vision 2011-2026, while Chairman PIP Zaiviji Ismail, Country chairman of Shell Pakistan spoke about the energy need, demand and the measures being taken to meet the shortfall.