ISLAMABAD: The government has restored the capacity of a coal-fired power project in Hub, Balochistan, to 1,320 megawatts after the Chinese company that was developing the project reportedly took up the matter at the highest level.

On Wednesday, the government signed an implementation and power-purchase agreements with two Chinese and local companies for setting up of two coal-based power projects in Hub and Thar with a cumulative generation capacity of 1,650MW. The projects are targeted to come on line in August 2019.

The 1,320MW Hub power project, to be run on imported coal, is being developed by a consortium of Hub Power Company and China Power International Holding Company at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. The 330MW Thar project is being developed by Thar Energy Ltd of Hub Power Company and will use local coal.

In November, a meeting of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board presided over by Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif scaled down the 1,320MW plant to 660MW as part of the overall decision to contain power plants based on imported fuels.

However, the Chinese side took up the matter at the highest level and followed it up at the sixth Joint Cooperation Committee meeting of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Beijing (CPEC) in December.

The Chinese side is reported to have told Pakistan that commercial viability of the Hub power project on supercritical technology was possible only with 1,320MW for which it had also been given tariff by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on the request of the government of Pakistan.

It also said the negotiations and processing of the project started in November 2014 pertained to 1,320MW for which financial arrangements had also been ensured and its unilateral reduction to 660MW at an advanced stage was unacceptable.

The Wednesday’s signing ceremony was again supervised by Mr Asif and Secretary Power Mohammad Younas Dagha.

Mr Asif termed these agreements as the achievement of an important milestone under energy framework of the CPEC. He said the construction work on site of the Hub project has already been started and the project would be completed in August 2019 with first to be synchronised with national grid by December 2018.

He said the establishment of these two projects was a clear negation of notion that the power projects had been concentrated in a single province, as these projects were being built in Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

This will have a very good social and economic impact on people of these provinces. He said the completion of these projects would be followed by more and Thar would become the “energy capital of Pakistan”.

He added that the “environment-friendly” Hub project will use supercritical technology, whereas the Thar project will use subcritical technology.

Asked why subcritical technology was being used in Thar, he said it was a pilot project the technology will be upgraded with the passage of time.

The minister said that after overhauling of the Nandipur Power Plant, the plant continuously transmitted 230MW to the national grid in first two weeks of this month. For the last one week, it is generating with full capacity of 430MW. He added said that six furnace oil treatment plants have been installed at the plant to remove its past shortcomings. Moreover, the gas supply to the plant would also be ensured by May 2017 so that it could generate 525MW.

The minister said the process of land acquisition for Diamer-Bhasha dam had been mostly completed and a small part was still being acquired. He said the groundbreaking of the project would be performed this year.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2017

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