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Showing posts from April, 2012

Pakistani University's Open CourseWare Wins Top Award

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Pakistan's Virtual University (VU) has won the Outstanding New Site Award 2012 for an Open CourseWare website which was created last year, according to media reports.

The Awards for OpenCourseWare Excellence provide annual recognition to outstanding courseware and OpenCourseWare sites created in the OCW Consortium community. They also recognize individual leadership in moving the ideals of OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources forward. The awards are announced each year at the global OpenCourseWare Consortium's annual conference.

In 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched the world's first open courseware program, which inspired many other universities, including Pakistan's Virtual University, to join the Open CourseWare (OCW) movement.


Founded in 2002, Virtual University of Pakistan has so far contributed 138 courses on a wide range of subjects since joining the OpenCouseWare consortium. These courses include free and open digital p…

Rising Fuel Costs Hit Power Sector in India & Pakistan

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Lack of affordable fuel has forced many power producers in Pakistan to operate at a fraction of their installed capacity since 2008. It has led to widespread load-shedding in the country, seriously hurting its economy. Similar situation now appears to be developing in India as well, although it's not quite as serious as Pakistan's current crisis yet. Current costs of various fuel options vary from $4 per mmBTU for coal to $20 per mmBTU for oil. Recently, the US prices of natural gas have dropped dramatically from $12 per mmBTU a few years ago to less than $2 per mmBTU, about half the price of coal, with the shale gas revolution currently sweeping the United States.


India burns coal to produce 55 percent of its electricity needs. Domestic coal production has increased just 1 percent last year while 11 percent additional power generation capacity has been installed. Some power producers have been importing coal, but that option has become more untenable recently because India’s…

Pakistan's Options: Domestic Shale Gas or Iran Pipeline?

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There are strong rumors that Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has joined the United States to oppose Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project for which Pakistan is trying to arrange financing in the face of tightening US sanction on Iran.

The Chinese have already pulled out of the project after the US imposed sanctions on banks and other entities dealing with projects and transactions involving Iran. Russia's Gazprom is reportedly interested in financing and constructing the Pakistan section of the pipeline, but only on the condition that the project be awarded to it without any competitive bidding.

The question now is how should Pakistan deal with the situation? Can Pakistan satisfy its growing energy needs without alienating the Saudis and avoiding crippling US sanctions which could be more damaging than its current energy crisis?

To answer these questions, let's first examine the following facts:

1. Pakistan has at least 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable domestic shale gas reserves, acco…

Shale Gas Revolution or Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline?

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US natural gas prices have fallen below $2 per million BTU (approx 1000 cubic feet), about one-sixth of the price Pakistan has agreed to pay for Iranian gas. With over 50 trillion cubic feet of known shale gas reserves in Sindh alone, Pakistanis can also enjoy the benefits of cheap and abundant source of energy for decades via the shale gas revolution already sweeping America.



Increased production of gas from shale rock in the US has created a huge new supply, pushing down gas prices from $13/BTU (million British thermal units) four years ago to just $2/BTU today, even as the price of oil has more than doubled. By contrast, the Iran pipeline gas formula links the gas price to oil prices. It means that Pakistan will have to pay $12.30/BTU at oil price of $100/barrel, and a whopping $20/BTU for gas if oil returns to its 2008 peak of $150/barrel.

To encourage investment in developing domestic shale gas, Pakistan has approved a new exploration policy with improved incentives as compared w…

Underground Economy Underpins Pak Consumption Boom

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Car sales increased 14 percent in February from a year earlier. Cement sales are rising with growing housing demand for increasing population. Lucky Cement, Pakistan’s biggest publicly traded construction materials company, is expected to post record earnings this year. Rising farm prices of bumper crops are pumping hundreds of billions of rupees each year into Pakistan's rural economy.

Contrary to government statistics of a stagnant economy, packed shopping malls and waiting lines at restaurants tell a different story-- the story of growing discretionary incomes of Pakistani consumers today.



So where is the disconnect between these two opposite views of Pakistan's economy? Naween Mangi of Businessweek answers it in her piece "The Secret Strength of Pakistan's Economy". She attributes it to the fast growing informal sector of the nation's economy that evades government's radar, illustrating it with the story of a tire repair shop owner Muhammad Nasir. Na…

Shale Gas Investment Can Help US-Pakistan Ties

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Pakistan has over 50 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates. It's enough to energize Pakistani homes, businesses, power plants, CNG vehicles, fertilizer plants and factories for 25 years at a rate of 2 trillion cubic feet of consumption per year at half the currently agreed price of imported gas from Iran, an agreement the US strongly opposes. It will also save Pakistanis hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign exchange.

The relevant question here is whether America is willing to offer through its oil and gas companies the necessary investment and the advanced technology to quickly and profitably develop shale gas fields in Pakistan in exchange for abandoning the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline?



Shale gas revolution began a few years ago when an American named George P. Mitchell defied the skeptics and fought his opponents to extract natural gas from shale rock. The method he and his team used to release the tr…