LNG Vessel a 'Game Changer' for Pakistan

It was good to be back in Pakistan last week, a country I first visited as part of a Congressional delegation almost 20 years ago during a markedly different landscape in South Asia.  This time around, my trip was focused on working together with government and the private sector to ensure Pakistan’s energy security.  On April 29 in Islamabad, I co-chaired the U.S.-Pakistan Energy Working Group with Minister of Petroleum Abbasi and Minister of Water and Power Asif to discuss the next steps in our energy partnership. Our delegation had a productive dialogue on how best to reform and diversify Pakistan’s energy sector. We agreed more investment in renewables would be essential to secure long-term energy sustainability, as well as the continued development of natural gas as part of the energy mix. A regional approach toward energy where neighbors cooperate will be the key element to this success.

Next I headed to Karachi -- a small city of only 25 million people.  Islamabad may be the center of power and government, but Karachi is the commercial lifeblood of Pakistan.  I was struck driving through the streets of the city to see many recognizable American businesses and brands, such as the local McDonalds and KFC.  I had the chance to sit down with the broader business community and hear their perspective on how energy stability was an essential component of any economic development or new investment in the region.   

Pictured L to R: Sheikh Imran ul Haque, Chief Executive Officer, Engro Elengy Terminal Limited; Mr. Marshall Carpenter, Program Manager – Development, Excelerate Energy L.P.; Mr. Ali Ansari, Chief Executive Officer of Engro Corporation; and Mr. Amos Hochstein, Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs [State Department Photo]  

The highlight of my day was visiting the Exquisite Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vessel.  As the Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, I have visited my fair share of energy infrastructure, but stepping foot on such a complex vessel, where there are fewer than 20 operational in the world today, is still remarkable.  Last fall, I had the chance to inaugurate the Independence FSRU in Klaipeda, Lithuania. This aptly-named ship eliminated energy dependence on Russia and greatly enhanced the Baltic region’s security of supply.  Now, using a combination of U.S. economic diplomacy and U.S. private sector ingenuity, Pakistan has unlocked this opportunity.

The shifts in international oil and gas markets have enabled this phenomenon, by making LNG one of the cheapest and most efficient energy options in the world.  Texas-based Excelerate Energy is one of the U.S. firms at the forefront of this revolution.  The vessel, the Exquisite (pictured above), initially arrived in Pakistan on March 26, only 11 months after the contracts had been finalized with the Government of Pakistan.  The Exquisite is capable of converting 700 million cubic feet of gas per day; this can provide a stable and affordable supply of gas to power plants, businesses, and consumers alike. If used for power generation, it could generate more than 3000 and 4000 megawatts of electricity per day, helping to resolve Pakistan’s fuel crisis and breathing new life into Pakistan’s economy.

To quote one of the billboards along the docks at Port Qasim, the introduction of LNG is just one step toward “making Pakistan more POWERful.”   I am proud of the role that the U.S. Department of State and USAID played in facilitating world-class, U.S. investment to Pakistan and helping our Government partners grow Pakistan’s economy.  

About the Author: Amos Hochstein serves as Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

External view of the Exquisite – a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) vessel docked in Port Qasim outside of Karachi, Pakistan
Posted by Amos Hochstein
May 8, 2015

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