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Thar Coal: claims vs facts

Discussion in 'Pakistan Economy' started by greatsequence, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. greatsequence

    greatsequence FULL MEMBER

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    Thar: claims vs facts

    Sunday, July 04, 2010
    Dr Farrukh Saleem

    Claim 1: Thar coal reserves stand at a colossal 185 billion tons. Fact 1: Pakistan's proven reserves of bituminous or anthracite (higher-quality) coal are next to nothing. Pakistan's proven reserves of sub-bituminous and lignite reserves (lignite is brown coal, the lowest-ranked coal) stand at 3,050 million tons, which amounts to 0.3 per cent of the global total. (Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy.)

    Claim 2: Thar coal reserves dwarf Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves of 264 billion barrels. (Saudi reserves amount to 25 percent of the global total.) Fact 2: In 1981, Pakistan produced 1.6 million tons of coal. Over the past 25 years our coal production has steadily gone up and we currently produce around 4.3 million tons a year, or a meagre 0.6 percent of world production. Asad Umar, president of Engro Corporation Limited, the company that has signed a joint venture with the government of Sindh for Thar Block II, has this to say on the subject: "One cannot make a direct comparison between oil and coal because oil travels very well and coal does not, and therefore oil dominates the energy market. So even if your [coal] reserves are bigger than Saudi Arabia's [oil reserves], it doesn't mean that you are going to become a Saudi Arabia of energy. And given that we don't have the best-quality coal, we have lignite coal which is very high in moisture, it's not going to be a globally traded commodity. It's not that we will start exporting 10 million barrels of oil energy per day."

    Claim 3: Thar coal reserves can produce enough electricity to end load-shedding and then power Pakistan for the following 50 years. Fact 3: Leading financial institutions around the world have long discontinued the financing of coal-fired power plants. According to Engro, "Pakistan is unlikely to generate any power from Thar coal before 2016. Feasibility should be completed …by the end of 2010. Then one year for financial close and then four years of execution, which means the end of 2015."

    Claim 4: Americans do not want Pakistan to develop Thar coal reserves. Fact 4: As a matter of record, in the early 1990s, it was the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), actually looking for water, which first identified the presence of coal deposits in Thar.

    Claim 5: Thar coal can be converted into gas and the gas can then be converted into transportation fuels. Fact 5: The South African company Sasol (Suid Afrikaanse Steenkool en Olie) has been producing petrol and diesel from coal (through the Fischer-Tropsch process). In essence, coal gasification is a proven technology. Thar coal can potentially be converted into gas, but the question that is yet to be answered is: will such conversion be cost-effective and economically viable?

    Claim 6: Thar coal is both technologically and economically viable. Fact 6: There is not a single scientific study on record that claims that Thar coal is both technologically and economically viable. Technical and economic feasibility studies are yet to be undertaken. At the same time, "regional geologic conditions, coal seam continuity, structure, quality, topography, altitude, slope, surface drainage patterns, groundwater conditions, availability of labour and materials, coal purchaser requirements, capital investment requirements" and environmental impact are yet to be ascertained.

    Imagine. Japan's proven reserves of lignite coal is zero, but Japan manages to produce $4 trillion worth of goods and services a year. It's not about extracting coal. The real name of the game is developing your human capital.



    The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com
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  2. Tayyab1796

    Tayyab1796 FULL MEMBER

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    very good analysis , I have always held Dr.Farrukh in good regard ... I hope he is not going to be called a stooge of Punjab to belittle Sindh's resources and thus her importance .
     
  3. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    Where are the proofs ?
     
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  4. Capt.Popeye

    Capt.Popeye ELITE MEMBER

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    Very interesting analysis, and some valid points have been raised.
    Lignite is a very low grade coal with high moisture, ash and soil content. It also has a low thermal coefficient. But it can still be used to generate power in Thermal power plants but with low efficiency.

    This is partly true because of the big 'hoo-haa' about the carbon foot print of thermal power. But if Pakistan can self-finance the plant/s where is the problem!

    This statement is spot on. South Africa had to use this technology to find a petroleum source only because its oil supplies were being choked-off by 'sanctions' in the apartheid era. It is not economically viable now- though it may become so when all the oil 'dries up'.

    This statement, while being quite correct; is generic in nature. Need for power is an immediate need.
     
  5. greatsequence

    greatsequence FULL MEMBER

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    I always had doubts about this immense wealth. The above article makes a lot of sense. I think we are yet again been fooled that somehow we will be rich.
     
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  6. Zaki

    Zaki MODERATOR

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    wikipedia .......................................:lol:
     
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  7. Capt.Popeye

    Capt.Popeye ELITE MEMBER

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    Please don't be hasty. Whether it is immense wealth or not is matter of depiction. But it is not mud. It needs to be properly analysed and studied quickly. Lignite can be, and is used for power generation in many countries from Germany to India. Its just that it's caloric value is about half that of anthracite coal. India has been using it to run some power plants in Southern India since the 60s. Don't see how it can't be done here.
     
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  8. Zaki

    Zaki MODERATOR

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    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
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  9. sparklingway

    sparklingway PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    He has a clear point that the coal is of poor quality and he didn't even mention the high moisture content which makes direct coal firing plants totally unfeasible. Thar Coal isn't a straightforward project, no IFI or *** will fund it and it's technologically quite challenging. Useful reserves are not equal to the total reserves as well.

    Saleem has a point that the project has been portrayed as too promising in the media without giving people the bitter taste as well. Also, the shouting over Thar Coal has been populous only. People think that you somehow dig the coal and start generating electricity in five days. Engro has clearly stated that it will take another 5 years. Thar Coal is clearly moving on, and credit should be given to Sindh Govt for settling a deal for at least one block.
     
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  10. Samlee

    Samlee SENIOR MEMBER

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    I Have Great Respect for Dr. Farrukh Saleem but cannot agree with him.
    To give the impression that Thar Coal Reserves are Useless Just Because they are of Lower Grade Poor Quality and have High Moisture Content Is Wrong
    1.If They Have High Moisture Content,the problem can be solved through dehydration of coal.The Water Extracted can Be Used for Non Potable Purposes.This Is A blessing for the locals who Have to Endure Long Periods of Drought
    2.Coal Refining Technology is an Established Technology.The US Company Evergreen Energy Inc. is Best Known for this. it was founded in 1984 with the goal of commercializing a coal upgrading technology first developed in a Stanford University laboratory by Edward Koppelman. Taking the K from Koppelman's name, Evergreen, known formerly as KFx Inc., branded its refined coal product as "K-Fuel."This Technology can be applied to Thar Coal
    3.Through Fischer–Tropsch process we can produce a various Synthetic Fuels
    4.Coal Gasification can Be Used to Solve our Problems of Gas Shortages.Coal Gasification Technologies Have Been Developed
    and Utilised in United Kingdom Germany USSR and USA with Success.Last Time I Checked Dr Samar Mubarak Was Working on It
    5.We Have Not Prospected for the Coal Bed Methane over There Yet.With such a Huge Coal field they are bound to be Enormous.Our Gas Shortages can be Solved for Good.
    6.Through Clean Coal Technology we Can Produce Electricity Which is Environmentally Friendly
    7.Most of The Coal Reserves of Germany are Lignite and They Have Created One Of The Worlds Biggest Chemical Industries Through Their Mastery of Coal Chemistry
    My Point is with The careful application of Technology,These Reserves which are Useless to The Untrained Eye can Become a Great National Asset
    Dr. Sahab also questions whether Thar Coal Gasification and Conversion to Diesel is Viable and Cost Effective.So What He Is Trying To Say Is It Is Cost Effective to Spend Billions of Dollars in Precious Foreign Exchange in The Import of Oil and Still suffer Fuel Shortages and Power Outages
    In The End He Gives The Example of Japan which does not have Coal Reserves but Still Produces $4 Trillion worth of Goods and Services.Dr. Sahab if The Japanese are not blessed in The Same Way We Are This Does Not Mean We Should Not Use Our Domestic Resources For Energy Production because only then we will be able to develop our Industry
     
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  11. Meengla

    Meengla SENIOR MEMBER

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    Dr. Saleem has no hidden agenda or any known affiliations to cloud his judgments. I would advise people to dig up another of his article written a few years ago where he systematically and factually points out the dependence of Pakistani economy on Western aid/trade/commerce.
    The 'All Weather' friends like China and Saudi Arabia hold no water here. Bitter truth but facts are facts. The sooner Pakistanis start to get a more clearer picture of as to why EVERY ruler since ZAB's death has bend over backward to be on the good side of the Western govts. the better.
     
  12. rohailmalhi

    rohailmalhi FULL MEMBER

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    http://forum.********************/index.php?showtopic=87005
    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...ness/rs984m-for-coal-gas-project-released-010
     
  13. monitor12345

    monitor12345 FULL MEMBER

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    Pakistan does have 185 billion tonnnes of coal reserves. There is no doubt about that.
    Source : Wikipaedia : Pakistan Coal Mines and Resources.
    BP Statistical Review of Energy 2007 . accepts that 185 billion tonnes of coal has been discovered in Thar area of Pakistan. The author is trying to confuse Pakistani people and he wants pakistani people to loose hope about future.
    Also, Dr. Samar Mubarakmand has confirmed that there are indeed atleast 175 billion tonnes of coal reserves and these can be converted into gas for producing electricity in the most cost efficient way and cheapest way compared to other means of energy.

    I think when such a respected, trusted scientist is giving good news to pakistani people , who are these anti-pakistan so-called scholars to make pakistani people loose hope.
    Wonder why this post has not been removed yet.
     
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  14. apophenia

    apophenia FULL MEMBER

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    These are his professional opinions offered which are thoroughly researched and documented and are offered in good faith with intent to assist. People need to stop daydreaming because there are some really messed up technical and financial issues which need to be clarified and addressed. Let just hope we won’t **** this up.