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ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday formally extended deadlines for commercial operations of two Thar-based power projects of 330 megawatts each to synchronise with $2 billion Lahore-Matiari Transmission Line being built by Chinese contractors.

A meeting of the Private Power & Infrastructure Board (PPIB), presided over by Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, allowed extension in letter of intent for a 300MW coal-based power project at Gwadar.

The board agreed extension in commercial operation dates (CODs) of 330MW Thar Energy Ltd and 330MW Thal Nova Thar Power Ltd -- both at Thar Block-II. The projects would be required to achieve COD by March 2021 against previous deadline of December 2020.

The COD of Lahore-Matiari transmission line and Thar based projects were synchronised to avoid contractual liabilities.

The minister told the board that the need for extension had arisen for timely completion and synchronisation of the transmission line project with the upcoming generation projects in Karachi and Thar, as evacuation and transmission of electricity from these plants heavily relied on the timely completion of Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line project.

The 878-kilometre 660kV High-Voltage Direct-Current (HVDC) Lahore-Matiari Transmission Line was earlier delayed for almost six months and is now required to achieve financial close by Dec 1 and start commercial operations by March 1, 2021 under various contracts and terms of licence.

The project is being developed by China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Ltd (CET) of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC). A few weeks ago, the PPIB had approved extension in financial closing date transmission line being laid under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The minister took this opportunity to boast success of the government in overcoming power crisis saying it had removed the darkness of loadshedding from the country by completing energy projects in a record period of time that would result in the process of industrial development accelerating and job opportunities increasing.

He appreciated the role of the PPIB saying it played a proactive role along with other stakeholders in contributing addition of maximum megawatts to the national grid. He said that just five years ago, energy, terrorism and violence were Pakistan’s biggest challenges but the government had overcome these evils within a brief term of five years and Pakistan could now be seen rising towards becoming a strong economy.

PPIB Managing Director Shah Jahan Mirza briefed the board on overall performance of PPIB during the last five years in developing Pakistan’s power sector. The board was briefed that since June 2013, PPIB has managed to handle biggest and most diversified portfolio of its history and delivered exceptional results. Implementation of major portion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) energy program comprising coal, hydro and transmission line projects was the prime task.

The PPIB five years ago started from scratch 23 projects with a cumulative capacity of 17,513MW, out of which 12 projects of 11,538MW were in construction phase and nine projects of 6,920MW had achieved commercial operations and supplying reliable electricity to the national grid. This brought total number of IPPs commissioned through PPIB to 15,469mw. Out of the current portfolio being processed by PPIB, another around 1,800MW capacity would be added to the grid by end of this year.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2018

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