A group of firms based in the United States claims to have formed a consortium that will look to raise up to $10 billion to invest in coal mining, electricity generation, and fertiliser manufacturing in the Thar desert in Sindh.
Representatives of the TharPak Consortium met with government officials at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC on January 5 to introduce their consortium and announce their intention to explore and invest in the coalfields in Thar.
The consortium’s plans for Thar sound ambitious. TharPak wants to set up a “mega energy complex” in Sindh that would mine about 100 million tons of coal per day to feed a Direct Coal-to-Liquids plant that could replace up to 80,000 barrels per day of oil imports.
In addition, the complex would include power generation capacity of up to 6,000 megawatts as well as a fertiliser manufacturing facility that would have an as yet unspecified capacity to produce urea. The consortium claims that these industrial processes will be supported by a carbon capture and storage program, and a liquefied carbon dioxide production and transportation system for sale to enhanced oil recovery projects.
“With Pakistan’s energy deficit in mind, we believe that with the combination of our deep mining and engineering expertise and the use of commercially proven clean coal combustion technologies, TharPak will deliver a solution to what is holding Pakistan back from competing on a level playing field in the global economy; dependable, abundant and affordable energy,” said Steve Carpenter, business development director for the consortium. TharPak officials seem aware of the scale of their proposal. “When fully built out, the cumulative capital investment for the lignite mining operations alone will likely exceed $10 billion,” said Hans Naumann, TharPak’s chief engineer.
Addressing some of the scepticism about the willingness of foreign investors to put up that much money in Pakistan, an official close to the development of the consortium – who asked not to be identified – said that TharPak had the credentials to make the investment.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.