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Pakistan seeks China’s help to end smog-related power breakdowns

Updated November 08, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Restoring oil-based power generation, Pakistan has sought Chinese technical help to fight repeated tripping triggered by smog in the transmission and distribution network.

The most important 500KV and 220KV transmission lines — the backbone of the national grid — suffered outages at 82 occasions over the last four days since Friday because of stability issues arising out of smog, closure of plants and low gas supply, a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was informed.

Down the line, distribution companies’ (Discos) level “132KV transmission lines are also faced with the same kind of problems and their number is much higher”, the power division of the ministry of energy said.

“There is no loadshedding but we are now facing the challenge of repeated outages,” an official claimed, explaining the revival of oil-based power plants ordered by the prime minister had now filled the demand-supply gap that was caused by an earlier decision to shut down plants on furnace oil and diesel to make room for LNG-based power generation.

He said the prime minister directed that power plants on hydel, gas, coal and oil should be used under the economic merit order on the basis of power demand. The oil-based plants like Hubco, Kapco, Nishat and Nishat Chunia, Liberty, Engro, Foundation, Lalpir etc which were closed last week have been brought back to production depending on demand.

An official statement said that the prime minister “underscored the need for greater coordination among relevant departments and for advance planning to face any situation”.

The meeting was informed by Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari that a team of experts had been sent to China for studying the Beijing model of transmission so that effective measures could be taken in smog-hit areas.

It was noted that the recent power outage that affected South Punjab, Upper Sindh and a few other places of the country was triggered by early advent of smog, which was unprecedented and was likely to continue due to dry spell.

Lower hydropower generation coupled with non-availability of gas due to scheduled outage of LNG terminal resulted in reduced generation from LNG-based power plants but effective measures had been taken to eliminate demand-supply gap through restoration of required capacity.

Another meeting attended by representatives of all the distribution companies, NTDC, generation companies, national power control centre (NPCC) and power division reviewed the latest situation arising due to outages caused by new weather conditions in some parts of the country.

Presiding over the meeting, Mr Leghari issued directive for taking immediate measures like installation of anti-smog and anti-fog discs at critical points to ensure uninterrupted power supply to consumers as there was no shortage of power generation in the country.

He ordered all chief executives of Discos and NTDC to sit together and evolve a technically sound solution to the problem and submit the way out to the government within three weeks for approval and implementation.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2017