Energy crisis: Regional countries urged to employ integrated solutions

The Express Tribune, Pakistan, May 23, 2014

Experts have urged regional countries to employ integrated solutions to overcome the energy crisis in the region

At a day-long dialogue on “Trans Boundary Cooperation in Energy Sector” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in cooperation with CUTS International and FES, India, the speakers stressed the need for a collective political will to invest in the energy sector.

They said there was a dire need to exploit non-conventional sources of energy to strengthen weak regional connectivity and boost trade and investment. Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan said that with new governments in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, the leadership should adopt a collective political approach to bridge the demand in South Asia by engaging Central Asian countries.

“There is a need to cooperate on a mutual basis,” said Khan.

Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan said that the present government was focused on trade, investment and connectivity for better regional cooperation and integration. He said that Pakistan was facing security issues particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that might hinder energy projects such as the “KASA 1000 Project”. He said, however, that the TAPI Project between Pakistan and India was still under consideration. “Much of the energy trade depends on diplomatic goodwill,” he said.

ITC Logistics Executive Director Mohsin Khalid said the TAPI project should not be the immediate goal of the government and instead it should involve businesses in transporting energy to meet immediate needs. He said the power grid networks of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan may be used for the energy exchange. Asian Development Bank Country Director Werner Leipach said that location of power stations and grid systems were being devised keeping in view the demography of a country.

e said that the private sector was ready to invest in Pakistan, but the government should focus on the security aspect.

CUTS India Deputy Executive Bipul Chatterjee said that while the political dynamics in both countries have changed, the business community, while expressing interest in more trade, was skeptical of investment in the energy sector. Chatterjee said both countries must review reforms in their respective regulatory bodies and their capacity building must be addressed. He said that non-conventional sources of energy including wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, coal and biogas should be tapped to meet the energy requirements.

“We need to see the market as regionally integrated market in South Asia,” he said, adding that “We should look at energy as regional public good and policy harmonisation is needed for a regional energy policy.” Research Centre for Chinese and Central Asian Studies, Kazakhstan Deputy Director Farkhod Aminjonov said that South Asia, as a potential customer, looks towards Central Asia as energy producer and trade partner. “South Asia is very interested in electricity and potential Central Asian countries can provide it.”

Attock Oil Refineries Chief Adil Khattak said that two to three per cent of South Asia’s GDP goes to energy sector and there was a need for regional trade of energy to spur the economic growth.

SDPI Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed stressed the need to bridge the gap between the government, civil society and business community. “The business community in the whole region is on the same page and now is the time to materialise the dreams.”

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