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INTERVIEW WITH MR ZUBAIR TUFAIL, FORMER VP FPCCI.

Byline: KHALIL AHMED

PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF:

ZUBAIR TUFAIL: I was born in Karachi in 1951 and had my school and college education in this city. I joined family trading business in 1970 in the field of Chemicals, Plastics and other products. In 1995, our company setup first Chemical Manufacturing Unit near Lahore and in 2009 setup second Unit at Port Qasim, Karachi, which was further expanded in 2013.

PAGE: DO YOU THINK THE INCUMBENT GOVERNMENT IS SERIOUS TO TACKLE THE ENERGY CRISIS?

ZUBAIR TUFAIL: We all know that the international community is ready to help Pakistan tackle its energy crisis. It is also a fact that controlling energy crisis is the top priority of the government. Economic measures taken by the incumbent government are being appreciated by the international community which has once again started looking towards Pakistan as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment. International financial institutions such as OPIC, USAID, IFC, IMF and World Bank are now favorably inclined to invest in Pakistan in line with priorities set by the government. It is essential to attract investment in the energy sector particularly to commence work on the Dasu Hydropower Project and Diamer Bhasha dam.

It has recently been reported that about 1.3 billion people in the world are living without electricity; two-third of them being in 10 countries including Pakistan. In the generation of electricity from renewable sources, the Asian and Pacific region led the world in 2010. But this amounted to only 15.8 percent of the region's total electricity, which is below the world average of 19.4 percent. With less than 400 kilowatt-hours per capita, the annual household electricity consumption in the region is the second lowest among the world's regions, after Africa where it is 200kwh. We need to know that the rural areas in Pakistan are currently facing unannounced load shedding in excess of 16 hours per day. The situation in cities is not better either.

Expert view is that the corporate power entities are required to be run in a corporate culture with zero interference from the government instead of being micromanaged by ministers and at times by prime ministers. The power shortages have sparked violent protests and crippled key industries, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs in a country already beset by high unemployment, a failing economy, widespread poverty, sectarian bloodshed and insurgency.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON IMPORT OF GAS:

ZUBAIR TUFAIL: Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline whether conceived in 1953 or in 1990s must be taken very seriously today. The import of natural gas from Iran through a pipeline could solve our severe energy crisis which has become the cause of low GDP growth at present. Gas from Iran could cost more than $13 per unit but the security of the 780km pipeline in Pakistan is a big challenge. I remember in 1994, the discovery rate of new gas reservoirs had declined considerably and non-availability of funds for the construction of hydroelectric power stations also increased the demand for natural gas. Not only IP gas pipeline, but also two more gas pipeline projects: one from Qatar through the sea and the other from Turkmenistan must be expedited. TAPI seems to be a reality, however, Qatar gas pipeline may or may not become a reality.

We need to take immediate steps address the demand-supply gap, which has widened to level of worries and problems. There is no gas for our stoves and geysers in winters and our factories and industries remain shut. Scarcity of fuel has rendered our power houses non-operational. We are importing costly furnace oil by utilizing foreign reserves. Import of LNG is important for Pakistan. To me, LNG import offers a possible solution to the energy crisis in the short-term while getting Iranian gas is the cheapest option for Pakistan.

PAGE: IS RENEWABLE ENERGY SOLUTION OF OUR ALL PROBLEMS?

ZUBAIR TUFAIL: In the field of renewable energy, we can learn a lot from India. It is now producing more than 17,000 MW of energy from wind alone, which is approximately equal to the total energy requirement of our country. Experts believe that in renewable energy the raw material is free like sunlight and wind in case of solar and wind energy. One has to invest in only purchase of solar panels and wind turbines. Let me tell you that after these panels and turbines have been installed, they would keep providing service for 25 years without any break. No further investment is required in addition for around 25 to 30 years.

Even after 25 to 30 years of service, the wind turbines can further be refurbished for one more decade or so. We should spend our energies and efforts in boosting renewable energy alone which is available in abundance in Pakistan. We have not benefitted at all from the wind resource in a 60km-long wind corridor from Gharo to Keti Bandar in Sindh and the coastal area of Balochistan.

PAGE: IS NUCLEAR ENERGY THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION TO ENERGY CRISIS IN THE WORLD IN GENERAL AND IN PAKISTAN IN PARTICULAR?

ZUBAIR TUFAIL: Pakistan needs to expand its nuclear energy program to overcome the severe energy crisis it is facing and has sought international support. With our very limited accessible conventional energy sources, nuclear power has to form an integral part of our energy portfolio because overcoming the energy crisis is currently an issue of the highest priority for our nation. The world needs a reliable source of power, which is safe and which will not exhaust quickly. No new energy sources are on the horizon; consequently, the world has to look at nuclear energy, as a possible source to meet future power needs. The nuclear energy industry has survived and has kept on producing more than 25 percent of power in the US, 80 percent in France, 25 percent in the UK and 30 percent in Germany. Lately its safety record has improved.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 15, 2013
Words:987
Previous Article:ESTABLISHMENT OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS A GIANT LEAP TOWARDS PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY FOR THE COUNTRY.
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