ISLAMABAD - Pakistan was looking into possibilities of producing diesel from coal to bring down oil import bill, achieve self-sufficiency in this sector and encourage consumption of locally produced fuel.

“We have a lot of interest to develop diesel from Thar coal and want Chinese assistance in that regard,” a senior official privy to petroleum sector developments told APP.

He said China had two such mega plants which were successfully running and Pakistan wanted its help in turning Thar coal into diesel.

According to a media report, the Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group, a subsidiary of China’s biggest coal producer, the Shenhua Group, had already successfully installed the project to convert coal into oil in the northwestern Chinese region of Ningxia, the biggest plant of its kind in the world.

The coal-to-liquid (CTL) project, having annual production capacity of 4 million tons of oil, was built by the Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group.

Pakistan’s monthly diesel requirement stands at average 600,000 tones according to which annual need stands at 7.2 million tons and the project to make Thar coal liquid (diesel) would also help reduce the import bill of diesel.

Thar coalfield in Sindh province is bestowed with 185 billion tons of lignite coal, which can fuel power generation of over 100,000 megawatts for more than two centuries.

In 1992, Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) discovered coal deposits worth 175-185 billion tons of lignite in Thar.