Massive CPEC Thar coal project back in spotlight as Pakistan looks for cheaper energy resources

By Khalid Aziz | Gwadar Pro Jul 2, 2022

ISLAMABAD,Jul.2(Gwadar Pro) - A stalled priority project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative in Thar Coal Block IV is expected to get going as Pakistan is exploring possibilities of utilizing indigenous coal resources for producing cheaper electricity amid exorbitant prices of fossil fuels in international markets.

A consortium of Oracle Power, China National Coal Development Co. and the Private Office of Sheikh Ahmad Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of Royal Family of Dubai, plans to establish a 1,320 megawatts coal-fired, mine-mouth power plant, integrated surface coal mine, and coal-to-gas and coal-to-diesel conversion facilities in Thar Coal Block IV at an estimated cost of $4 billion. The coal-to-gas facility will produce urea fertilizers as well, according to Oracle Power.

The project remained on back burner for several years until Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif recently formed a Committee on coal development to cope with the electricity crisis. CEO of Oracle Power Ms. Naheed Memon was also part of the Committee, which ignited hopes of progress on this massive CPEC project.

The Committee held a consultative session on Friday, which deliberated over prospects of utilizing Thar coal to overcome power shortages and save precious foreign reserves on the import of fossil fuels. The Committee will also hold a follow-up meeting on coal gasification and coal-to-diesel conversion before putting forward recommendations to Prime Minister.

As part of the Committee, Memon will be in a better position to advance Oracle’s Thar Coal Block IV project, the company said. The company is awaiting a Letter of Intent from the Private Power and Infrastructure Board. Memon said recently that she was optimistic that the project would move forward as PM Shahbaz Sharif has assured progress on all CPEC projects.

The project was first included in CPEC portfolio as an 'actively promoted project’ in November 2014, and was later moved to the list of priority projects after the 6th JCC meeting of CPEC held in December 2016. The coal gasification and fertilizers segments of the project were also included in CPEC in 2019, according to the company.

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