US-Pak review ongoing energy programs

ISLAMABAD: The United States and Pakistan reviewed progress on ongoing energy programs and recommitted themselves to pursuing practical solutions to Pakistan’s energy needs during the latest Pakistan-United States Energy Dialogue this week.

Ambassador Carlos Pascual, U.S. Department of State Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, joined Pakistani Minister of Water and Power Naveed Qamar to reaffirm the partnership.

As all Pakistanis know, reliable and affordable energy is critical to Pakistan’s prosperity. Without it, businesses can’t operate and families cant light and cool their homes. Pakistan’s future depends on power, Ambassador Pascual said at the opening of the Dialogue. There are no quick fixes to this crisis, but the United States and international partners are willing to help. We will continue to support Pakistan in its efforts to resolve this energy crisis.

Ambassador Pascual reaffirmed the United States’ long-term commitment to working with Pakistan to establish a commercially-viable and sustainable power sector. During the Dialogue, the U.S. and Pakistan reviewed ongoing cooperation in the energy sector. USAID highlighted its ongoing energy programs, which will bring more than 900 MW of power to the Pakistani grid by 2012. The programs include construction and rehabilitation of three hydropower plants (Satpara, Gomal Zam and Tarbela) and three thermal power plants (Guddu, Muzaffargarh, and Jamshoro).

This extra energy will bring power to approximately 7 million people, eradicate 20% of Pakistan’s existing power shortage, reduce annual oil imports by more than one million barrels and help store water for irrigation and flood control. The increases to the energy sector will also bring job opportunities for as many as 2.5 million heads of households.

The U.S. delegation welcomed Pakistan’s plans, elaborated in the Integrated Energy Sector Recovery Report and Plan, to put the power sector on a commercially-viable and sustainable path. In the Dialogue, Pakistan underscored its commitment to strengthen energy sector governance and efficiency, pursue regulatory reforms, improve financial management, and create a business climate that helps drive investment.

Key topics of discussion at the energy dialogue included: an overview of the power sector and challenges it faces; the current policy and regulatory framework, and possible reforms; availability of primary fuels; the role of the private sector; and regional energy initiatives.

The U.S. underscored that these measures will help develop a stronger foundation for investment. Both sides agreed to continue technical exchanges in areas that can help improve power availability.

The U.S. also welcomed Pakistan’s continued engagement with international financial institutions and the private sector to assess feasibility of viable hydropower projects and appreciates its commitment to international environmental and societal standards, while also focusing on the importance of water management.

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