China helps out en­ergy- starved Pak­istan

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­

With an on­go­ing en­ergy short­age af­fect­ing nearly ev­ery house­hold in Pak­istan, sev­eral Chi­nese power com­pa­nies and in­sti­tutes are work­ing closely with the na­tion’s govern­ment to take ad­van­tage of its nat­u­ral re­sources and in­crease elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion.

The Shang­hai Marine Diesel Engine Re­search In­sti­tute re­cently agreed to help build a power plant in Pak­istan to con­vert the byprod­uct of pro­cess­ing sug­ar­cane into elec­tric­ity. The goal is for the plant to pro­vide an an­nual ca­pac­ity of 960,000 mWh.

“The plant has the high­est pro­duc­tiv­ity among those of the same kind in the world,” said Jin Dong­han, head of the in­sti­tute. “Pak­istan is a coun­try rich in sug­ar­cane and turn­ing that into elec­tric­ity is a very cost- ef­fec­tive op­tion for the coun­try to find a way out of its short­age of en­ergy.”

Ac­cord­ing to a May re­port by The New York Times, lights go out for at least 10 hours a day in ma­jor cities in Pak­istan and up to 22 hours a day in ru­ral ar­eas. Find­ing a so­lu­tion to the na­tion’s en­ergy cri­sis topped Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif’s agenda dur­ing his visit to China from July 3 to 8.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies in Pak­istan have also made strides to im­prove the na­tion’s pro­duc­tion in hy­dro­elec­tric­ity.

Xiong Lixin, vice-pres­i­dent of Si­no­hy­dro Corp Ltd, served nearly seven years ago as a pro­ject man­ager for the land­mark Go­mal Zam Dam in north­ern Pak­istan to help build both the dam and a hy­dro­elec­tric plant at the site.

The dam also serves to help ir­ri­gate farm­land and con­trol flood­ing.

De­signed and built by Power Con­struc­tion Corp of China, the plant suc­cess­fully con­nected to the national grid on June 26. Xiong said what im­pressed him most dur­ing his time in Pak­istan was the in­tel­li­gence and dili­gence of the Chi­nese staff who worked hard to meet con­struc­tion dead­lines on the dam.

With an in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 17,400 kW, the hy­dro­elec­tric plant will pro­vide en­ergy to about 25,000 lo­cal house­holds, while the dam will help the coun­try avoid an­nual eco­nomic losses of $2.6 mil­lion due to flood­ing.

Xiong said the dam is a sym­bol of China’s lead­ing con­struc­tion tech­nolo­gies. Pak­istani peo­ple called the pro­ject their national ver­sion of the Three Gorges Dam, a mega hy­dropower gen­er­a­tion pro­ject along the Yangtze River.

But in build­ing power plants for the coun­try, Chi­nese com­pa­nies and con­trac­tors have faced nu­mer­ous dif­fi­cul­ties, in­clud­ing con­cerns about their se­cu­rity.

“The Chi­nese staff mem­bers were brave be­cause the lo­ca­tion of the plant was close to Afghanistan and rel­a­tively danger­ous. That in­tim­i­dated many other for­eign engi­neers,” Xiong said.

In Oc­to­ber 2004, work on the dam came to a halt af­ter uniden­ti­fied mil­i­tants kid­napped two Chi­nese engi­neers work­ing on the pro­ject at the north­west­ern bor­der of Pak­istan.

Se­cu­rity con­cerns

One was saved but the other was killed in res­cue ef­forts. It took two years be­fore work con­tin­ued on the pro­ject.

Xiong said Pak­istan sent helicopters to es­cort him to the con­struc­tion site in 2006 and also dis­patched armed se­cu­rity guards to pro­tect the Chi­nese staff.

“The se­cu­rity mea­sures would not have worked if there wasn’t a firm friend­ship be­tween the two na­tions,” said Xiong, who left Pak­istan in 2011.

Li Shao­tong, eco­nomic and com­mer­cial coun­selor of the Chi­nese em­bassy in Pak­istan, re­cently urged Chi­nese busi­nesses to “en­sure safety mea­sures and take pre­cau­tions” in the coun­try. Li added that se­cu­rity un­cer­tain­ties re­main even af­ter the Pak­istani elec­tions in May.

The sear­ing hot weather also poses an­other chal­lenge for Chi­nese projects in the coun­try.

Wang Xiao­jun, an en­gi­neer at China Nu­clear In­dus­try No 5 Con­struc­tion Co, said tem­per­a­tures reach above 35 C “for sev­eral months a year” at the Chashma Nu­clear Power Plant in north Pak­istan, which China Nu­clear re­cently helped build.

Hav­ing enough man­power was an­other ob­sta­cle. Many Pak­istani work­ers, Wang said, lacked the tech­ni­cal train­ing needed for the pro­ject.

“We only had 200 Chi­nese work­ers there and we hired more than 1,400 lo­cal peo­ple,” Xiong said.

Chi­nese peo­ple do­ing busi­ness in Pak­istan should re­spect the lo­cal re­li­gious and so­cial cus­toms and strengthen their sense of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, Li Shao­tong said.

Liu Xiaoxue, a re­searcher on South Asian stud­ies at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, said Chi­nese com­pa­nies and con­trac­tors ben­e­fit from em­ploy­ing lo­cal peo­ple in Pak­istan.


Engi­neers of the Harbin Boiler Co test the steam gen­er­a­tor de­vel­oped for the Chashma Nu­clear Power Plant in Pak­istan.

The Chashma Nu­clear Power Plant in the Mian­waki dis­trict, Pun­jab prov­ince, was built by Chi­nese and Pak­istani engi­neers.

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