Engro Powergen Qadirpur (EPQL) is an example of innovation in Pakistan’s energy sector. This plant was built to use permeable gas (low BTU and high Sulphur) which was flared gas (disposed of) from the Qadirpur gas field. This project came with an out of box solution of capturing this gas to produce power. It is used to generate 217 MW of power. But Qadirpur gas is depleting and so is the permeable gas. Currently, 100 MW worth gas is used, and the rest of the plant is run on HSD.
Recently, EPQL modified its generation license to use another low BTU gas in the neighborhood. It will get this gas from Petroleum Exploration Limited (PEL) at Ghotki. The initial gas availability will be 8-13 mmcfd and that would be enough to produce 20MW. This low BTU gas does not have pipeline quality and was not in use. Every indigenous MW is important in days of high LNG prices and Pakistan’s external financial crunch.
Such transactions should be encouraged. This is B to B in play, ona ‘take and pay’ basis. This kind of low BTU gas has no other use and is not of pipeline quality. What is required by the government is to liberalize the market. That is what happened in the case. Pricing is done by market forces benched marked to RLNG contract pricing adjusting to the heating value discount.
The government needs to pull out of the market and let business-to-business deals become the norm. Indigenization motivation is imperative. There is more potential in the permeable gas in the region. It is estimated that 400-500MW worth of power can be generated through these distressed fields. EPQL can absorb 100MW in its plant. New investment is warranted in the sector.
Pakistan is increasingly relying on imported energy – especially gas. The country doesn’t earn enough dollars to provide for the required gas import bill. The indigenous and innovative projects should be welcomed and encouraged. Using the low BTU gas from distressed fields is saving without incurring high initial costs. These are low hanging fruits. Small steps like ECQL should be highlighted and encouraged.