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LAHORE: About 400MW were added to the national grid on Saturday after the first turbine of the 1180MW Re-Gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) fired thermal power plant at Bhikki (Shikehupura) started generation on trial basis.

The test run of the plant’s first turbine was carried out in the wee hours of Saturdayafter which its generation was successfully synchronised with the national grid, according to official sources. The test run of the plant’s second turbine was likely to start by end of next week, they said.

“We started test run of the plant’s first turbine during midnight hours and as soon as it started, it initially generated 362MW and later touched the figure of 400MW due to low temperature,” Mr Ahad Khan Cheema, Chief Executive Officer of the Quaid-i-Azam Thermal Power (Private) Limited — a subsidiary of the Punjab government, told Dawn on Saturday.

“Since the first turbine’s test run will be examined on technical grounds through tests and protocols etc, it will not be run on a regular basis in coming days. And this process will continue for next couple of weeks,” Mr Cheema said.

The sources said the turbine’s trial power generation was in simple cycle mode and it would increase once it started generation in combine cycle mode after installation and trial operation of the third turbine (called steam turbine). The third turbine was expected to be installed in coming days, they added.

“The two turbines installed already will initially generate 750MW and it will gradually increase to 780MW or so. And after installation and operation of the third turbine, the combine cycle operation of the total three turbines will be completed, enabling the plant to generate about 1180MW. In such situation, each turbine will generate over 393MW,” Mr Cheema explained.

The Bhikki project was expected to be completed by December, this year as per deadline fixed by the government. “It will really be a record if we succeed in accomplishing this mega project by December, this year,” the CEO claimed.

According to a QAPTL’s spokesman, as the testing of the first gas turbine is underway, it will start commercial or regular operation with full capacity by end of March 2017.

“The testing of second gas turbine of the Bhikki power plant will start from next week and finally its commercial operation will start by the first week of April, 2017 according to the timeline,” he added. The total contribution of the Bhikki power plant in simple cycle to the national grid would be over 700MW by the next month’s first week, the spokesman said.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2017