Chinese interest in Thar Coal


IN a welcome development, Pakistan has approached China for optimum exploitation of huge Thar coal deposits and received positive response. Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, who was part of the PM”s entourage during his recent visit to Beijing, China will help Pakistan turn Thar coal into diesel and to this effect talks are being held with Chinese Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group which is known for turning coal into liquid.
If taken to fruition, the move would prove to be a gigantic step towards realization of the country’s dream to exploit the world’s largest coal deposits for accelerating the national growth and development. Thar coalfield in Sindh province is bestowed with 185 billion tons of lignite coal, which can fuel power generation of over 100,000 megawatts for more than two centuries. Conversion of coal into diesel would help meet growing diesel requirements indigenously cutting the import cost of oil substantially. The country had a bitter experience of its experiment launched several years back for gasification of coal in Thar as the experiment could not yield any positive result despite investment worth billions of rupees. However, the project to convert the coal into diesel seems to be viable as the Chinese Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group, a subsidiary of China’s biggest coal producer, the Shenhua Group, has already successfully installed the project to convert coal into oil in the north-western Chinese region of Ningxia, the biggest plant of its kind in the world. As the proposed project can prove to be a game changer for economic development of the country, it is hoped that this would be given priority by the Advisor. Internal meetings should be held with all stakeholders to firm up details and formulate a comprehensive plan for presentation to the Chinese Company and securing a reasonable agreement. This should be done on a fast track basis as it would also help realize the cherished objective of producing cheaper energy.