Pakistan and Tajikistan are set to explore new avenues for the supply of 1,000 megawatts of electricity with the help of transmission lines to Chitral in an effort to utilise surplus energy and help Islamabad ease its power shortages, officials say.
This energy trade, which is separate from the Central Asia-South Asia 1,000-megawatt (Casa-1000) power supply project, will come up for discussion during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Dushanbe in the middle of June.
Leaders of the two countries would also hold talks on building road and railway networks in order to connect Central Asian states with Pakistan through Afghanistan for regional connectivity that would enhance trade.
“Both the sides have also agreed to cooperate in exploration, extraction and processing of oil and gas and will review measures required for collaboration in these areas,” an official said.
According to sources, the prime minister will leave for Dushanbe for a two-day visit on June 17. He will be accompanied by Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi.
Pakistan is already working with Tajikistan on Casa-1000 power supply project and now plans to purchase an additional 1,000MW were under study for which transmission lines would be laid from Tajikistan to Chitral in northern areas.
“Tajikistan has a huge potential to produce hydroelectric power and wants to help Pakistan tackle its energy crisis,” Tajik Ambassador Sherali S Jononov told The Express Tribune.
Confirming Sharif’s visit to Dushanbe, he stressed that the two sides would explore the potential of energy cooperation during the trip.
“We have the capacity to export an additional 1,000MW to Pakistan through Chitral route that will help our brotherly country overcome the energy crisis,” Jononov said.
Diplomatic sources point out that Tajikistan has also vast reserves of oil and gas and it could export gas by laying a pipeline on the model of the proposed Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline in future.
“Tajikistan wants to expand energy cooperation with Pakistan by building a pipeline for gas export to meet Islamabad’s energy needs,” a diplomatic source said.
For 1,000MW power supply, transmission lines would pass through a small border area of Afghanistan and reach Chitral, which is 15km from Tajikistan’s border, the source said.
The project, named Rogun-Khorog-Vakhan-Chitral and proposed in the early 1990s, drew interest from different countries and international financial institutions, which were keen to become part of it.
According to sources, Tajikistan, Pakistan and other participating countries had signed a financing deal with the World Bank and other multilateral donors would also be approached for funding the laying of transmission lines.
It is estimated to cost around $240.5 million covering transmission lines to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A Tajik embassy official said among other sectors of Tajikistan’s economy, the area of energy had been showing sustainable growth over the last 15 years.
During the period, hydroelectric power generation had been stable. Apart from big plants, there were 20 medium and 40 small hydroelectric power stations in remote mountainous areas, each having capacity in the range of 5 kilowatts (kwt) to 1,500 kwt, he said.
According to the official, Tajikistan is the world’s third largest producer of hydroelectric power after the US and Russia. This power generation source constitutes 76% of total energy output in the country.
During the prime minister’s visit, the two sides will also discuss the progress on Casa-1000 project for which World Bank has approved funds.
This project will ensure a steady source of revenue for the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, the weakest economies in Central Asia, and requires no new investment because it will supply surplus power that will otherwise be wasted.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2014.
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