Houston, Texas (Ilyas Choudry / Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi): After months of hard work and preparation by the Coal Forum Committee of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce â€“ USA (PCC-USA), one of the leading organizations of the Pakistani-American businesspersons; PCC-USA organized the first ever Coal Forum at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Houston on November 18th, 2010, to inform about the presence of abundance of coal in Pakistan and as such attract investments into Pakistan in the coal energy generation sector. Coal Forum included several presentations by persons representing Government of Pakistan and US Energy Sector Companies; plus on the second day, one-on-one private meetings were held between the Pakistani Governmental Officials / PCC-USA Coal Forum Committee, and US Companies like WorleyParsons Group, Inc, Synthesis Energy Systems, Taggart Global LLC, Shaw Group, and JLP Minerals.
PCC-USA Coal Committee includes Waseem Rahim (Chairman), Zafar Mansuri, Asif Ehsan, Rashid Khokhar, Sheikh Muhammad Awais, and Saeed Shaikh.
Most appropriately as the keynote speaker during the lunch, PCC-USA Coal Forum Committee invited Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones. Texas Railroad Commission has the primary regulatory jurisdiction over oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, natural gas & hazardous liquid pipeline industry, natural gas utilities, the LP-gas industry, and coal & uranium surface mining operations.
Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, who is considered one of the likely candidates to replace Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchinson as one of the Senators from Texas in 2012, said that just like in January 1901, Captain Anthony Lucas after two years of real hard-work, discovered the oil fields over the Spindletop Hill of Beaumont Texas (no previously discovered oil field in the world had ever been so productive), similarly the coal reserves in the most emerging country of Pakistan are waiting for their Captain Lucus and Thar can be the likely Spindletop Hill of Pakistan. As such Coal Forum of PCC-USA is one of those landmark events, which will eventually bring the energy independence to Pakistan in this fast becoming energy starved world. For US Companies to be involved in that expected energy boom out of Pakistan, which would bring much happiness to Pakistanis, people of that region, as well as Americans in this close-knit world, it is imperative a sound energy policy should come out of Washington, D.C.
Among many significant participants, some of the more prominent personalities at the forum included Consular General of Turkey in Houston Akil Oktem, Consular General of Pakistan in Houston Muhammad Aqil Nadeem, President of Turkish Chamber Celil Yakta, former US Ambassador to Qatar Chase Untermeyer, President of Pakistan Association of Greater Houston (PAG) Khalid Khan, former City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan, candidate for City Council of Sugar Land Farah Ahmed, and Joseph Ringer of Export-Import Bank of the US (who informed that those who need capital to invest in Pakistan should contact him at 281-721-0467).
Earlier inaugurating the Coal Forum, the Chief Guest Ambassador of Pakistan Hussain Haqqani thanked PCC-USA for organizing such a well-planned event. He informed PPP government recognizes that coal is the most viable energy source for Pakistan. To realize the full potential of coal, Government of Pakistan has so far awarded four blocks to foreign investors. He agreed with the PCC-USA position that BIT should be negotiated in a speedy fashion.
Managing Director Thar Coal & Energy Board – Pakistan, Ajaz Ali Khan presented an extensive presentation on the Thar coal deposits and the efforts made by the government to tap them quickly. He provided insights into the volume of deposits that are estimated to be 187 billion tones. He briefed the audience on the blocks that are already awarded to foreign investors and the blocks that will be offered for auction in the coming months. He strongly encouraged US investors to participate in the bidding process, so that they become active participants. He informed that the incentives offered by Thar Coal Board include repatriation of profits in dollars and a minimum return on investment of 20% in dollar terms.
Khalid Mansoor, CEO, Sindh Engro Coal Mining, briefed the audience about the long term view of Engro in investing in coal fired power plants. He said the ten years scenario indicate that without using coal as feedstock for power generation, it may not be possible to finance the circular debt resulting from imported fuel. He said that Engro has partnered with Government of Sindh to create a mining company that will provide coal to a 1200 MW power plant built by Engro power. He said that the total project would cost over 12 billion dollars for which environmental studies have been completed and submitted to World Bank. He encouraged US Coal Technology companies to come forward and participate in Pakistanâ€™s coal initiative.
During the conference presentations were made by many, including Laique Rehman Chairman Advisory Council of CC-USA; Trevor Bailey, General Manager, Steam Products, GE; and Jim Powers, VP Coal Gasification, WorleyParsons. In response to a question, Mr. Bailey appreciated the efforts of PCC-USA and agreed to provide support to explore the creation of Coal Research Institute in Thar. Mr. Ajaz Ali Khan requested PCC-USA to work as a bridge between US and Pakistani companies to form joint ventures and alliances.
Earlier President of PCC-USA Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi in his welcome address stressed the need to use indigenous resources to bridge the supply demand gap in electric power. He insisted that clean coal technologies are now available to use for power generation. He requested the Government of Pakistan to put the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations on the fast track to attract more foreign direct investment from US investors. At the end of the program, he announced that this forum is a beginning of a long road towards development. The next milestone on this path is to form a delegation to visit Thar in early part of next year.
For this purpose, one can contact Waseem Rahim, Chairman Coal Forum, PCC-USA, International Trade Center, 11110 Bellaire Boulevard, Suite 202, Houston, Texas 77072, Phone: 1-281-701-1574, E-Mail: Rahim_Waseem@Yahoo.Com
About PCC-USA: Pakistan Chamber of Commerce-USA (PCC-USA) is the largest trade organization representing the interests of Pakistani-American businesses. PCC-USA is the only trade body with memorandum of understandings (MOUs) signed with Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot, and Haripur Chambers of Commerce & Industry. PCC-USA has also executed MOUs with Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Pakistan Gem & Jewelry Development Company (PGJDC). As a national organization we have chapters in San Diego, Los Angeles and New York with our headquarters based in Houston Texas. Contact: Mumtaz Khan, VP Media, Phone #: 281.744.6175, E-Mail: Info@PakistanChamberUSA.Com