Interview with Mr Kalim A. Siddiqui — former Managing Director, Pakistan State Oil
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and your career, please:
Kalim Siddiqui: I am Kalim A. Siddiqui, married with five beautiful daughters Masha Allah. All of them are married and deserted the nest leaving me with my lovely spouse. I am a former Managing Director of Pakistan State Oil and former President of Byco Petroleum.
I am holding a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering from University of Bradford in England (UK) and a Masters in Chemistry from Karachi University, has broad-based, global experience by working in USA, UK, Australia, Vietnam & Pakistan for over 36 years.
I am an enthusiastic and highly accomplished Executive with thirty six years of extensive fuels/lubricants business expertise in marketing, sales, operations management and system re-engineering in oil industry by running supply chain, streamlining processes, hunting for new business and growing top producing accounts; I have experience of developed and emerging markets/cultures. I am a collaborative leader with aptitude to achieve change, excite the organization, infuse new ideas and deliver dramatic, bottom-line outcomes; recognize to accomplish multiple customer-specific priorities with competence, exemplary follow-up and interpersonal abilities; I am highly expert in high-level market segments, top-down selling and vertical market mastery.
I have served as Chairman Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) and have held directorships in various reputable companies, & professional and educational institutes including Pakistan Refinery Limited, Pak-Arab Pipeline Company, Asia Petroleum Limited, Pak-Grease Manufacturing Company Limited, Petroleum Institute of Pakistan, Pakistan Advertisers Society and Lahore University of Management Sciences. Before joining PSO in 2001, I have served in Caltex (now Chevron) for over 20 years locally as well as internationally. International assignments were located in the USA, Australia and Vietnam. In a longer spell of over 20 years in Caltex, I have dealt with fuels, lubes and LPG in all aspects like product development, product engineering, supply chain, operations, production/manufacturing and sales/marketing, My three years of work in the UK was with Howden Engineering Company, Burmah-Castrol refinery, North West Water Authority and A.P.V Company before coming back to Pakistan in 1980.
PAGE: What is your take on the energy crunch in Pakistan?
Kalim Siddiqui: The energy crisis is the largest single drain on Pakistan’s economy. This crisis stems from a fuel mix transformation initiated roughly two and half decades ago, when power generation came to rely more on imported furnace oil than hydropower or other means of power generation like by natural gas, coal, solar/wind, nuclear etc. The resultant increased power generation costs, couple with the high proportion of line losses, have led to the need to increase tariffs, while causing losses to power generation, transmission and distribution companies. This in turn has given rise to the phenomenon of circular debt in the energy sector, whereby slippages in the payment of bills (particularly on the part of public sector companies) trigger a chain of delayed payments for imported furnace oil, natural gas or other inputs to the thermal generation system, which in turn hamper the operation of the power plants and result in less than optimum capacity usage. In addition, the energy crisis is a significant drain on the government’s resources, with energy subsidies taking up a substantial part of the federal budget.
In addition, lack of our focus and/or very slow pace on the development of indigenous sources of water to built dams for hydropower and agriculture, oil & gas production, coal usage as well as solar & wind usage beside nuclear power generation option. Governmental competence/capacity and governance is also to blame for the energy crunch in Pakistan.
PAGE: How could Pakistan be self-sufficient in energy?
Kalim Siddiqui: Pakistan is energy deficient country because of its inadequate energy power supply mix, rising energy gap between supply & demand, lack of energy legislation and its implementation.
Conventional ways of generation of electricity energy through non-renewable resources is a lengthy process and this process usually takes five to ten years if sincere efforts go into it without politics. In parallel to this, we should adopt all alternate ways to save and generate electricity through renewable resources to overcome the energy crisis in Pakistan. Some alternate ways to save and generate energy are:
- Energy conservation and Energy Efficiency Improvement such as replace conventional lighting by LED and Solar Lighting, use high efficiency motors, pumps and controllers, use of energy efficient equipment (refrigerator, fans, air conditioners, stove), use energy efficient materials in buildings, replacement of conventional heating & cooling by solar water heating & cooling, etc.
- Alternate and Renewable Energy Applications like Solar Thermal, Solar Photovoltaics (PV) commonly called Solar Panels, Solar & LED Lighting and Wind Power, etc.
Develop and utilize all the available indigenous sources to make Pakistan self sufficient in a cost-effective manner.
Either Energy Ministry or evolve “Energy Administration Authority” for regulation of energy sector and to streamline decision making. Energy efficiency improvement and use of alternate and renewable energy applications can bring the country out of energy crises and it will help in reduction of GHS emissions enhancing energy security of the country.
Government should provide facilitation through legislation. Private sector should follow the policies and laws and all Chambers of Commerce and Industries should bridge this gap by providing platform where the private and government sectors should work as team for growth of alternate and renewable energy sector in Pakistan.
PAGE: What is your perspective about the energy prices in the entire world at this juncture?
Kalim Siddiqui: The economic recovery in 2021 has tightened commodity markets and put upward pressure on prices across the board. Crude oil prices skyrocketed from USD 20/barrel in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic in mid-2020 to around USD 70/barrel in mid-2021. Spot natural gas prices have been on a relentless upward march around the world, and they reached their highest ever levels in Europe during the second-half of 2021 (more than ten-times the record lows reached in June 2020). Coal prices in 2021 have also seen strong growth on the back of a rebound in demand, especially in Asia. High natural gas and coal prices have fed through to higher power prices in many markets, particularly where output from renewables has been relatively low like Pakistan.
As for affordability, the extent to which commodity prices feed through to household and other energy bills is determined by policy and market design, as well as by whatever taxes, subsidies, capital costs and environmental surcharges are reflected in the final bill. In an ideal world, energy bills will be based on cost-effective energy prices and would encourage efficient and sustainable choices, but without harming low income households or choking off economic activity.
PAGE: Has the incumbent government been rather prudent in its energy policies?
Kalim Siddiqui: Despite government claims that their energy policies are prudent but in reality, they have not been able to introduce any overdue structural reforms in the energy sector to encourage local & foreign investments to take the country towards self-sufficiency. Also displayed poor governance and incompetence that resulted in fuel & gas shortages and exorbitant hike in electricity pricing. Power outages will not go completely until and unless power distribution network is expanded/upgraded.