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525MW Nandipur power plant starts test run

Updated April 23, 2017

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LAHORE: The government has started running the 525-megawatt Nandipur power plant on trial basis after it was finally converted to Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG).

“The Nandipur thermal power plant has been converted to gas. And the officials concerned have launched a test run after we started providing gas to it from Thursday,” Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) Managing Director (MD) Amjad Latif told Dawn on Saturday.

“Since the plant is running on trial basis, we are providing 10 to 30MMCFD of RLNG to it according to demand. And once the plant’s commercial operation starts, its total demand will be 100MMCFD,” the MD explained.

When questioned regarding suspension of various power plants, including 412MW Rousch in Khanewal district due to shortage of gas, the SNGPL chief claimed that none of the plants was closed due to a shortage.

“We have sufficient gas. Some of the plants, including Rousch, are on scheduled outages. And once they demand after ending the scheduled outages, we will surely provide them gas,” he added.

He said the SNGPL had laid a new and dedicated pipeline for provision of RLNG to Nandipur plant.

Since being commissioned a few years ago, the Nandipur plan could not be run properly due to technical and procedural flaws. Though the government continued claiming the project would be a success, it attracted severe criticism from opposition parties and technical experts on various issues. Following frequent technical, procedural and administrative problems, the government finally removed its project director.

The Ministry of Water and Power was also reported to have identified three major technical and procedural problems with the project and sought action against those responsible. The selection of low-capacity furnace oil treatment plant for such a big project, flaws in the long-term outsourcing of operation and maintenance contract and awarding the contract to engineering, procurement and construction contractors on a short-term basis were the key shortcomings that led to failure of the project.

Moreover, poor quality fuel believed to have been adulterated on its way to Nandipur from Karachi had also caused initial problems.

Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was also reported to have claimed that there would be no technical problem with the 525MW plant if it was run on natural gas. He opposed the selection of dual fuel combined cycle technology for the project on technical grounds, but was overruled when a high-level meeting was informed that banks were not ready to extend funds unless the plant had alternative fuel.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2017