Outages blamed on reduced hydropower production, faults

Published July 13, 2021
Power Minister Hammad Azhar said that due to shortage of water in Tarbela dam and tripping at different points in transmission lines, forced loadshedding was being done in some areas of the country. — DawnNewsTV/File
Power Minister Hammad Azhar said that due to shortage of water in Tarbela dam and tripping at different points in transmission lines, forced loadshedding was being done in some areas of the country. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday conceded carrying out forced loadshedding in different parts of the country, citing reduced production of hydro-electricity and faults in transmission lines.

Testifying before the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Energy (Power Division), Power Minister Hammad Azhar said that due to shortage of water in Tarbela dam and tripping at different points in transmission lines, forced loadshedding was being done in some areas of the country.

He told the meeting presided over by MNA Lal Chand that as the supply of coal to power plants has been restored and water surface in Tarbela improved, loadshedding all over the country was considerably reduced on Monday. He further said that for the first time a maximum of 24,500MW was transmitted through the current transmission system.

Although transmission lines are gradually replaced, much work needs to be done to improve the transmission structure in Pakistan, he said, adding that the main focus of the government was to improve the transmission structure so that more megawatts could be added to the national grid.

Minister testifies before NA committee on energy

A Power Division official told Dawn that fuel stocks at major power stations was precariously low while a few LNG vessels had also been cancelled over the past few weeks, resulting in non-utilisation of available capacity. He said the Jamshoro power plant had a generation capacity of about 650MW and required about 4,000 tonnes of furnace oil but its total stocks were less than 4,500 tonnes that would last for less than a day given very limited supplies.

Likewise, Hubco, Muzaffargarh and Kot Addu power plants having a generation capacity of about 3500MW had fuel stocks for less than three days and all of these plants did not have any fresh supplies in the pipeline.

The official said that out of 20 fuel oil and diesel-based power plants, 13 power plants had less than 2.8 days of fuel stocks while only four or five plants of smaller capacity had more than 3 days of fuel stocks.

Under the power purchase agreements, all plants should have 15-30 days of mandatory fuel stocks.

The official said this was despite the fact that about Rs60 billion had been paid to fuel suppliers by Power Division in the last 10 days of June. He said Tarbela dam’s power generation currently stood at about 2,000MW which was anticipated to double to 4,000MW by July 18.

Moreover, the power sector’s firm demand for LNG currently stood at 950mmcfd but it was getting no more than 750mmcfd. “We can consume even 1100mmcfd of gas at present but all fuel supply arrangements — including coal, furnace oil, diesel and LNG — have been found wanting throughout the season,” he said, conceding that poor hydrological availability was a natural phenomenon, but the Ministry of Energy and its allied companies had not been able to ensure seamless alternate fuel arrangements even though both power and petroleum divisions worked under a unified Ministry of Energy.

At the standing committee, MNA Sabir Hussain Kaim Khani questioned how long the public representatives tell the people that the transmission system would get improved.

The secretary of Power Division conceded that they were facing resources constraints and shortfall in generation was resulting in load management.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

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