Blackout to continue for 7 years: WAPDA chief

Published: June 29, 2011
Electricity demand will come at par with supply in 2018.

Electricity demand will come at par with supply in 2018.

Amidst rising temperatures and daily, protracted power outages, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has dropped another bombshell: The electricity crisis will persist for at least another seven years.

Wapda Chairman Shakeel Ahmed Durrani told the National Assembly standing committee on water and power on Tuesday that power outages could not be stopped till 2018 due to the imbalanced utilisation of power generation resources.

While the session was in progress an irate member of the committee from Okara – Sajjadul Hassan – strongly criticised the state-owned power generation companies for 22 hours a day blackouts in his district. “It is unacceptable,” Hassan said and threatened to set the office of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) on fire, if the situation did not improve. “The electricity demand could swell up to 130,000MW by 2030,” Durrani said. However, the government was committed to shifting power generation from thermal to hydel by 50 per cent to overcome the crippling crisis.

According to him, the Gilgit-Baltistan region has the capacity to generate 60,000 to 100,000MW electricity. Therefore, he said, this potential must be tapped to add more megawatts to the national grid.

Durrani said his authority has started work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam and that its ground breaking ceremony would be held next month in the presence of President Asif Zardari. Other than that, he said the overall power generation capacity would increase by 15 per cent after the upgradation of Mangla Dam. The Wapda chief said that per unit generation cost of thermal power was Rs10.18 per unit – 870 per cent higher than power generated through Hydel sources which costs Rs1.05 per unit.

When asked about the current status of the Neelam-Jhelum hydropower project, Durrani claimed a 16-kilometre-long tunnel of the project being built near Muzaffarabad had been constructed.

The Wapda chairman informed the committee that the overall power generation capacity was around 13,669MW against the demand of about 18,114MW, showing a shortfall of 4,445MW. He added that 600MW could be added to the national grid if the adequate furnace oil was made available to the companies. Currently, the power sector is receiving 20,000 tons of furnace oil per day against the demand of 28,000 tons.

“The power companies cannot pay off their oil bill to the suppliers due to circular debts,” he said and added that around 500MW shortfall could be overcome if the gas companies ensured proper supplies to the power generation companies. However, in a statement issued later in the evening, the ministry of water and power said the government has added about 3500MW to the system thus far, which helped bridge the supply and demand gap and reduces power cuts. It added that the statement was being wrongly projected that load-shedding will not end by 2018.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (49)

  • Asad
    Jun 28, 2011 - 9:35PM

    Demand will match supply not because you are going to generate more electricity but will people will be switching to there own generated sourcesRecommend

  • Usman
    Jun 28, 2011 - 9:46PM

    Woo Hooo!!!!!Recommend

  • Imran
    Jun 28, 2011 - 9:48PM

    No worries, world will end on 21 Dec 2012.
    Or something like that..Recommend

  • QK
    Jun 28, 2011 - 9:58PM

    This is all rubbish. Corruption has made WAPDA incapable of meeting the power demand. Jabban Power House near Dargai, Malakand is out of order for the last six years and no one is bothered to make it functional.Recommend

  • Yahya
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:14PM

    Load shedding will come in this country till eternity Recommend

  • Shafique
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:33PM

    will pak army remain till 2018 ?/ Recommend

  • Syed Bilal Hussain
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:41PM

    No hopes from Government till pubic uprisingRecommend

  • Khurram
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:43PM

    Thanks for giving a fake date once againRecommend

  • Raja Pervez
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:43PM

    Shame on this GOV. Its so easy for them to say this.. they should really learn from their neighbours.. PPPP has looted ths country for 4 years and 1 to go… please for God’s sake have pity on me and my poor people Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:50PM

    We are now used to these lullabies. First it was 2010 deadline with rental power which shamed the minister. Now its 2018. How many of us would be there to see that day? Not me atleast.

    Millions of Dollars were wasted on developing Private sector energy generation not owned by Government. Millions more are being wasted on small generators owned by every other house. Now probably they have some sort of magic lamp which would do the trick.

    Build dams, develop coal, wind and solar energy generation instead of hollow promises.Recommend

  • Shaukat
    Jun 28, 2011 - 11:27PM

    If the Govt. remains same, this hell could be possible.Recommend

  • A
    Jun 28, 2011 - 11:41PM

    Great. i’ll be back with my business in 2018! Recommend

  • Balma
    Jun 28, 2011 - 11:49PM

    This is actually impossible. The people making such statements should be tried in courts and punished. Unless Pakistan controls its explosive population control, supply can never, ever match the demand. Pakistan should implement a one child policy for thirty years and strictly enforce it. Recommend

  • Faraz
    Jun 28, 2011 - 11:51PM

    What a joke. Just like this government.Recommend

  • Lollers
    Jun 28, 2011 - 11:53PM

    Asad your comment is partially correct but I think that supply/demand will not match in 2018 because people will generate their own electricity but because I think by that time corrupt governments which we continue to elect (example AJK election right now won by PPP again) and those corrupt governments will drive our country backwards so much that demand will drop off with industries closing, jobs getting cut etc… Basically put us on par with some of the african nations where demand drops significantly.Recommend

  • Jun 29, 2011 - 12:30AM

    How will that be possible? Have the factored the growth rate in the demand? Also have they factored the capital outlay and infrstrcure required for such massive project to generate close to 10000MW power in 7 years when they havent added even a 1000MW during the last 10 years?Recommend

  • omaidus
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:52AM

    At least one policy of pakistan is of Long term Basis…..Recommend

  • Zardi
    Jun 29, 2011 - 2:11AM

    We are all sure that the government is lying again. They have this habit of lying again and again and the now the public is well aware of it. I am sure they can never solve this issue because it needs an intelligent patriotic brain but they have a corrupt one…Recommend

  • MK
    Jun 29, 2011 - 2:45AM

    By then they will only provide electricity to ruling elite and cut off permanently to all others. Since load shedding only applies if you have a electricity conenction, there will be no load shedding. Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 29, 2011 - 4:21AM

    We Will Not sacrifice our Honor & Dignity for the sake of Prosperity – General Kiyani.

    Don’t Worry guys General Kiyani will Produce Electricity by The GHAIRAT of Crore commanders.Recommend

  • Jun 29, 2011 - 7:31AM

    I think this disaster of a claim needs a distraction. Does anyone else believe that kid on the right in that picture is a little bit too into that fire? Recommend

  • Hamad
    Jun 29, 2011 - 8:07AM

    I cant belive in your dead line for the end of electricity load shedding. It is once agin they are making fool to us by saying that thatelectricity load shedding will end by 2018. we will see in 2018 that you will make other excuse for electricity load shedding. Am sorry dear Govt have no solid reason to trust for that deadline. Please make assure what are you planning to overcome electricity shortage to need by 2018.Recommend

  • Lollers
    Jun 29, 2011 - 8:51AM

    Everyone complaining about this government that government, PPP, PMLN etc… what do you have to say about WE the people voting them in every time. We deserve this so unless WE are able to take a stand for something different in the next elections it is useless to complain because many of you will end up going to give votes to the same corrupt parties. Standard behavior around these parts, all talk but when time comes for action we don’t do anything.Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jun 29, 2011 - 10:40AM

    Where is that JOKER PERVAIZ ASHRAF who claimed , not once , many times that there will be no more load shedding after DEC 2009.???Recommend

  • sars
    Jun 29, 2011 - 11:26AM

    shes so used to the candles from frequent loadshedding……….Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 29, 2011 - 2:52PM

    So much for nation’s Ghairat Brigade !!! I don’t notice any protests about the treatment being meted out to the very people who gave this Govt the mandate to rule over them, and who have blindly supported their Army too without any questions!!!!
    So this is the state of Nuclear Pakistan!! Who simply can not even provide basic services to its people!!!
    I suggest that Pakistanis really check as to how many other countries face similar situation in regards to power source and read their names too as you are part of that club!!!!Recommend

    Jun 29, 2011 - 2:57PM

    This black-out will only cause some discomfort but what about the more dangerous black-out of the minds of your number one institution, civilian govt and mullahas which is ruining Pakistan ?Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jun 29, 2011 - 3:18PM

    Raja Pervaiz Ashraf Recommend

  • ali
    Jun 29, 2011 - 4:23PM

    Guys, If only the power corruption can be controlled…we can match the supply and demand easily. The supply is the same as the demand unless the stealing is accounted for…God save this motherland of ours from these democracy chanting villains.Recommend

  • Long Standing
    Jun 29, 2011 - 5:21PM

    @Shafique: Will Pakistan exist till then.. The current state of events dont inspire much confidence!Recommend

  • Jun 29, 2011 - 5:36PM

    MashahALLAH, We are progressing…. 2018 that’s sooon honestly… i was expecting that maybe load-shedding wont come to an end ever… Thank you so much PPP ……. Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jun 29, 2011 - 5:45PM

    Since the topic is of an industry I am directly involved in, I can tell you with conviction that most of you blabbering here have no idea what you are talking about. The fact is since 1996 there has been no plan w.r.t. to energy. I am glad that the people are being told the truth, they should have said this 4 years ago. So sit tight and enjoy the weather, especially Musharraf lovers, they need to relish in this more than anyone. Pick up your history books and see who has had success in adding MW to the Grid since 1980…. you’ll have your answer.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 29, 2011 - 6:40PM

    well its good to see someone involved in the industry commenting as peole like me simply are bewildered to the fact that in 21st century Global World, that a basic need as electricity is is difficult to come by in Pakistan!!
    I just relate to the how much damage this possibly causes to the industrial base and economy in general!!
    I recall a similar situation way back in early 70s in Mumbai, when a friend of mine’s factory use to operate on random days and w/ends due to this problem, but that over 35 years ago, but sadly in Pakistan it still exists!!!
    Tell me how does encourage or generate foreign investments and infrastructure, when the production may actually depend on Power supply????
    So one assumes that in Pakistan the economic growth is unlikely in near future!!!Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jun 29, 2011 - 8:19PM

    @ Hedgefunder

    The key to infrastructure development (especially properly planned development) is the continuity of policy, and from the private sectors point of view, the assurance of it’s continuity. India has had that and it has worked.

    Personally i’ve seen the past 6-8 months have been very productive, and this continuity seems to have started paying off. From a policy perspective I see the energy sector going in the right direction. As far as implementation is concerned, it’s still not up to the level it should be, primarily because of a lack of confidence from lending agencies and the private sector. Having said that, it has improved considerably over the last year.

    Coming to your last question; I think by the end of this governments term they will have added around 5000MW (through IPPs, Rental and Rehabilitation of old plants). So theoretically you will fill the installed capacity vs peak demand. However, practically the problem still remains. Hydel generation is dependant on water, thermal on gas and oil. There is no quick solution to the gas problem, however, oil can be provided given the government has the funds. However, at the current price that is being charged to the consumer, it is not economically viable for the country to invest in this oil, since the subsidy requirement would increase substantially. In essence, the short term solution to this would be a combination of grants and loans, increased taxation and expedited exploitation of resources. The last one is difficult to achieve in the short term.

    In these circumstances, a well laid our development plan coupled with the assurance of continuity (security obviously needs to improve – but thats an entire topic in itself) can stimulate the economy considerably – The countries need for power and infrastructure in itself is enough to encourage investment and development, and with a white market GDP of USD 185B and 200million population it automatically becomes attractive.

    In a nutshell, we need to keep at it for a few years, and if we remain on track by 2016/2017 we should be able achieve GDP growth rates of about 7/8%.

    Then again, this is Pakistan, anything can happen. The above is based on the singular assumption of things proceeding as they currently are. The outcome will change proportionally if they get better or worse!!

    Sorry for not being too coherent but it’s difficult to talk on such a subject in a few words! Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jun 29, 2011 - 10:39PM

    @ Hedgefunder

    Replied to you in great length but it hasn’t showed up! Sorry buddy. Will try and muster the energy again.Recommend

  • Mujtaba
    Jun 30, 2011 - 9:47AM


    On 12 December 2012 (12-12-12)Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jun 30, 2011 - 11:57AM

    Is this a fact or just wishful thinking????Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jun 30, 2011 - 12:01PM

    Govt. of Pakistan established ALTERNATE ENERGY DEPARTMENT long time back, not this but the previous govt and since then the concerned persons have been sitting on their BUTTS and have done NOTHING except misusing the funds. We need dedicated people to work for Pakistan not bureaucrats who just waste time and hard earned money of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jun 30, 2011 - 1:34PM


    RE: post 1: I don’t know what you are referring to.I think it’s quite clear what part of my statement is a fact, and what part is my personal opinion and analysis(based on the general dynamics of the industry and nature of work). If there is something specific you would like to know please ask.

    RE: post 2: AEDB has a very reasonable, learned staff. The problem is inherently in the type of work they are assigned. Besides Hydel, all other forms of power generation are not the current need for Pakistan. They are too expensive, extremely difficult to implement in Pakistan’s situation. The issues are too many to list here. However, how do you suppose we can afford buying electricity at 20cent/KWh – a year ago it was expected we can generate wind for a little less than 19, but that’s probably going to change once companies file for tariff determination. ? Yes, there should be a long term plan so we have a good mix of generation sources, and with time as the economy improves and increase in hydel and gas generation bring average tariff down we can start to work on it. The current pace at which it is being developed is fine.

    For the short term, the best option is to
    1. facilitate the industry with regards to coal imports. You need proper infrastructure at the port and subsequently means to transport efficiently. (i believe EOI has been requested for setting up a coal jetty in Karachi)
    2. Expedite gas exploration
    3. revamp the LPG quota system to enable IPPs to benefit from it
    4. Solve the ministerial issue that has halted Nandipur & Chichookimalian TPS (1000MW)
    5. Expedite the revamping that is currently in process for all PEPCO and WAPDA facilitaties
    6. Tarbela Ext. 4 (1300MW addition) – in process

    Long term:
    1. work on the pipelines from Iran and Turkministan
    2. maintain the momentum on Bhasha, Bhunji & Dasu (around 17,500MW)
    3. pressurize IPPs to start work on Karot & Azzad Pattan (around 1600MW)
    4. Punjab Govt – Needs to start working on Mahal HPP with AJK (700MW)
    5. Resolve inter provincial issues regarding ownership and revenue sharing for Wind Project in both Sindh and Balochistan
    6. Develop thar coal for gasification (viability still uncertain) and extraction

    This is just some of the things that need to be done. The reason for my optimism is, save 1 or 2 items all are being pursued at a reasonable pace.

    Hope this helps.Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jun 30, 2011 - 1:49PM

    And with a budget less than PKR 100million, the money spent on it is inconsequential in the bigger scheme of things. They have their research and small project going on all across Pakistan. One can think of it as institution building for renewable energy and sustainable development. (If someone from AEDB is reading this, maybe you can educate the readers on what you have done and are doing – As far as i understand considerable work has been done, though none of national importance on its own) . Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 30, 2011 - 2:57PM

    I still feel that perhaps private sector should play principal role and develop these projects with view to long term returns, but am not sure if the power is subsidised or being charge at market rates in pakistan.
    One thing is for sure, this situation has to improve in order for pakistan to progress economically as this is a huge problem for local industry at present.Recommend

  • khan
    Jun 30, 2011 - 6:39PM

    I love this estimate……in political terms it is call IWBG….YWBG………i’ll be gone and You will be gone………….that far out no one knows what will happen.

    Pakistan is in a spiral………people do not pay their fair share of taxes so the government doesn’t have enough money to run basic services…………on the other hand govt steals the money instead of fixing things so people don’t want to pay the taxes………..

    The politicians will not fix themselves The only way this can end is of people to start paying taxes and hopefully then people will start holding their own elected officials accountable……..the only other option is for God to bring the flood of Noah on pakistan and take away the sinners…..which might be 1/3 of the rich people in pakistan.Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jun 30, 2011 - 6:52PM


    Bhasha – estimated cost in excess of USD 12 Billion
    Bhunji – estimated cost in excess of USD 9 Billion
    Dasu – estimated cost in excess of USD 10 Billion

    As you can see with the number above; it’s not possible for the private sector to play the principal role, in our situation atleast. However, they can play a very strong support role, which in a way could be considered as a principal role in the short term for small to midsize project upto USD 1 Billion.

    Another major issue is the heavy domestic Bank borrowing by the government, leaves little for the private sector.Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jun 30, 2011 - 8:36PM

    Interesting details and maybe Pakistan Govt. is working on these projects but the Govt and its departments have been working on Wind Project, I believe India and Pakistan started almost simultaneously ( maybe I am wrong) but look at the results!! How much electricity is India producing through wind project and where do we stand???
    Thar coal project: Vested interests are working against it and RENTAL POWER PLANTS are total failure!! Infact it was more of a money making scheme. I am sure you will agree that the RPP’s are not producing the electricity which they were supposed to do ( what else you expect from the 2nd hand & obsolete plants) Two ships from Turkey are they producing electricity to their full capacity??????? NO ! If they were Karachi would not be facing the load shedding it is.
    Till such time Circular Debt is not finished power production will not increase. There is a big gap in supplies of Furnace Oil to IPP’s and other plants ( 800 MT per day). PSO has threatened to further reduce the supplies of fuel to power plants.
    All these projects you have mentioned are very good, all they need is the WILL to complete the projects and do this HONESTLY!!!!Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jul 1, 2011 - 2:41AM

    @ Iftikhar

    With the exception of 3 points out of the 12 I mentioned, the Government is working. Personally, I would say a better job could be done, but even at the current rate it’s very optimistic.

    India can afford to. This is how: Total installed capacity = 165,000MW. Over 50% generated from coal. Wind Energy installed capacity = 13,000 MW appx. It doesn’t effect them… that’s how! So simply put, our dynamics are totally different, it’s futile to make such comparisons, not only for this reasons, but many more.

    Thar Coal: The core issue for this has been the lack of trust of the Sindh province on the Federation. If we go by history it’s not really misplaced! The only solution to that is provincial autonomy, which is finally coming about despite the opposition of the Army and all Punjabi based political parties. We will realize the importance of this after a 100 years!

    RPPs: RPPs or IPPs or any private investment of large scale – the issue is simple, very few people in the world have been willing to invest in Pakistan over the past few years. When such is the case then you have 3rd rate parties. Secondly, the media has made a joke out of everything, same goes for the civil society and so called intellectuals. On top of that Judicial adventurism really isn’t helping. Putting up used equipment is always a hassle (look at the gifted UAE plant, no contractor willing to put it up). Media made a joke out of it, judiciary intervened when a perfectly competent authority was dealing with them and going as per contract. Sometimes deliverables are not met, in such cases penalties are invoked and the party in question deals with it, you don’t go from shaking hands to raping someone because of non-conformance to an understanding. Anyhow, this again is a long debate.

    Circular debt: I don’t have any evidence or exact figures, but logically speaking even if you had the money to buy the oil and make payment, why should you when you will have to subsidize even that – especially when you have no money? So you spend money to buy something and then spend even more to sell it? Better to just no get it, save money at both ends! The real crisis that’s hit us has been the shortage of natural gas. Not only does that reduce our capacity but cost also increases considerably when you have to move to oil. But Pakistani’s say that’s okay, as long as then can fill up their cars with CNG and drive all around town staring at girls in burkas.

    The worst part is, it’s so hard to get correct information with all the nonsense flying around just leads to further confusion for everyone. Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jul 1, 2011 - 2:45AM

    @ khan

    I never understand people like you. You guys walk into a room, make scandalous statements (when made enough it becomes a fact, right?). Are you a world acclaimed analyst? If not , forget stating facts, you can start by trying to be humble about your opinion to say the least.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 1, 2011 - 2:15PM

    I agree its not viable for private sector to go it alone, as the risk factor and returns are likely to take too long, but there can be some form private public partnership, with possible assistance from WB or ADB !!
    Another thing i notice, why has no one really considered Solar Energy, i have seen some projects in african countries which are really impressive and have taken off with assistance from international lenders, and cost are not that prohibitive as they were 20 years ago, as the technology has developed very fast in this field,
    The equipment i saw installed in africa was all chinese made and i have also seen in rural india these types of projects taking off, as tata in india is quite advanced in its development of the equipment, and the price difference between european manufacturers and the asia ones is quite huge too.
    But i think that this form of energy in long run for countries like pakistan, india srilanka etc is a must and should encouraged by the Govts.Recommend

  • Ammad
    Jul 1, 2011 - 3:45PM


    WB, ADB, IDB, DFID & JICA are extremely active, in-fact they are running around trying to find projects to finance. Take a look at the tenders section in our newspapers, it’s like summer sale these days! Due to my line of work I run across IFIs all the time.. so this I can tell you personally is true. That’s why I laugh at our intellectuals and media – anything that I personally am involved in, when I read about it it’s all nonsense! Going by that, I assume everything else is also nonsense, since I am not an expert on those things I wouldn’t know! Have you read anywhere in the news why our Exports have gone up? (and that too considerably)… no. They is no journalistic element in our media.

    Solar Energy: PV technology has had some good breakthrough’s in the recent years, but it’s still not viable on a large scale. I think the government should try and get grants for this sort of thing, or to only implement it for the sake of R&D or on a very small scale for remote areas where all they need is 100watt per house. Solar thermal is not picking up as it should (around the world, that would be more suitable for places like Pakistan). I am not a technical expert on PV technology but from what I undestand, as temperature goes up, efficiency of the PV cell goes down (it needs light). I am sure with advanced technology you could minimize this effect. Nonetheless, practically i’ve heard they work well in our Northern areas.

    Yes, I agree with you, these type of technologies should be encouraged by government, not only in this region but around the globe, this is the future.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 1, 2011 - 5:44PM

    I am not an expert on this technology, and am quite sure there may be some flaws, but what i saw in Namibia and also in Angola last year was very impressive, as a friend of mine’s company was involved in the project to supply street lighting and basic power units and panels some houses in an villages of one region for initial test case with the view to ferther expansion of the schemes.
    I have also seen such schemes on smaller basis taking off in remote and rural area in India, and i must say i was impressed, as without grids in these area this is one sure way for the people to obtain electricity in their homes and farms.
    There no doubt that this is the future, as the dependency on Oil & Gas is simply not going to be viable in long term, due to cost elements.Recommend

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