Pakistan Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources, energy and environment

Pakistan’s most important natural resource is natural gas, which is mainly extracted in the Baluchistan province in the southwest. The country also has its own oil resources, but they cover only a small part of the need. Oil imports are therefore high. Electricity shortages and constant power cuts are serious problems for both households and the economy.

Other minerals extracted in considerable quantities are limestone, rock salt, gypsum, quartz sand, iron, zinc, copper, lead and coal. Mining accounts for only a few percent of the country’s GDP and employs a negligible share of the labor force.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Pakistan with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

While oil production has stagnated during the 2010s, gas production has risen following new finds. To a certain extent, the government has managed to cover a greater part of the growing energy demand with domestic gas instead of imported oil (mostly from Saudi Arabia). Oil imports account for one fifth of total imports.

Just over 80 percent of the energy consumed comes from oil and gas, which also accounts for just over 60 percent of the electricity. Just over a quarter of the electricity comes from hydroelectric power stations, most of them in the north rivers. Five percent of the electricity is generated from nuclear power. The remaining electricity is extracted from, among other things, coal power and solar energy.

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With the help of Chinese financing, Pakistan is investing in domestic coal power, which today accounts for only one percent of electricity generation. In the framework of the Sino-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure and development project, nine coal-fired power plants will be built in the country. The investment in coal power meets criticism from environmental experts due to the negative climate impact of the coal. The construction of a large coal-fired power plant in Tharöknen in the south-east has also raised concerns among the local population about what it will mean for the area’s scarce water resources (coal-fired power plants require a lot of water to generate electricity).

Pakistan has a handful of nuclear power plants, including outside Karachi in the south and the Indus River in the north. An expansion of nuclear power is ongoing.

Pakistan’s first solar power generation plant was inaugurated in May 2015 in Bahawalpur. The plant was built by a Chinese company.

Since the mid-1990s new private energy companies have been started, but electricity shortages are still a problem. Demand is growing rapidly, due to both increased industrial production and the electrification of rural areas and the greater demands of households.

An opportunity to increase electricity generation lies in greater utilization of the country’s enormous water resources in the large rivers, but also in streamlining power plants. Their production is low today because of worn equipment and the companies cannot afford to buy enough oil or gas.

An obstacle to efficient electricity generation is also poor administration, where various producers and distributors are in feud with each other about the payment, and where the electricity companies also find it difficult to get paid for what they supply to customers. Often the provincial authorities are among the big pay cheaters, because they have such a hard time collecting taxes that they have a chronically poor economy.

Theft of electric power is common and is often carried out by the electricity companies’ own employees on behalf of major customers. Distributors’ ability to detect thefts is usually small. In addition, the waste is large because the systems for paying for what is actually delivered are substandard. In practice, a significant part of electricity distribution is estimated to have been taken over by organized crime.

In Baluchistan, the production of natural gas is under constant threat from separatist guerrillas, which require that a greater proportion of gas revenues accrue to the province. It has happened that Chinese personnel have been kidnapped and killed.

The insufficient electricity production has forced rationing, which means that entire districts or districts are without power a certain number of hours per day. In the 2010s, the problems have only increased and become a threat to the country’s economic development, besides creating unfavorable living conditions for the population.

The PML-N government (2013–2018) took the initiative for a unified national electricity supply plan. Some of the problems stem from conflicting interests between the provinces, where a hydroelectric project that can benefit one province may risk leading to forced relocation in another and causing water shortages in a third.

Lack of water is another imminent problem. The UN has warned Pakistan that it is facing “absolute” water shortage by 2025.

Deforestation has led to a significant reduction in Pakistan’s forest area. About one-twentieth of the land area is currently covered by forest. The UN has recommended that forest area be doubled. Tree planting is underway in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, partly to prevent soil degradation and flooding, and partly to counteract climate change. The federal government has also initiated replanting initiatives.


Energy use per person

486 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

472 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

166 298 thousand tons (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

0.9 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

46.5 percent (2015)



India is pressing for Mumbai action

Pakistan is under severe pressure from India, after Pakistani Islamists carried out a series of concerted terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Bombay) and killed at least 175 people. Some people are arrested.


Zardari is appointed president

The electoral college elects PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari as president by a large majority.


The government is cracking down

PPP presents Asif Ali Zardari as its presidential candidate. PML-N leaves the government and launches a counter candidate.

Musharraf resigns

PPP and PML-N decide to put Musharraf before national law. He chooses to resign himself instead.


Gilani becomes new prime minister

Yusuf Raza Gilani from PPP is elected new Prime Minister. He releases all imprisoned judges and promises to ask the UN to investigate Bhutto’s murder.


PPP and PML-N win the election

Parliamentary elections are conducted after a bloody run-up with about 100 casualties. The opposition parties PPP and the Muslim League (PML-N) win big and agree, despite many years of rivalry, to form a joint government.

Pakistan Energy and Environment Facts

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