ISLAMABAD, July 29: Pakistan is expected to sign an agreement with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan to import 1,000 megawatts of electricity from the two Central Asian states through Afghanistan.

Experts from the four nations will meet in Islamabad on July 31 to finalise a series of pacts under the inter-governmental agreement, to be signed by the energy ministers on Aug 4.

According to sources, the Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) project is being facilitated and sponsored by a consortium of international lenders, comprising the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank, for development of electricity sources in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for export to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The inter-governmental agreement will cover a host of contracts relating to commercial, legal, financial, power purchase and transmission arrangements. The project will ensure a supply of 5.5 billion units of electricity per year to Pakistan from Sangtuda, Rogun, Talimardjan and Kambarata hydropower stations at 3.3-4.7 cents per unit.

The hydropower projects are under construction and will take two to four years to generate electricity.

The electricity will be delivered to Peshawar through a 650-700km extra-high voltage transmission line.

Pakistan will bear the cost of all the line losses in the transmission system. Two routes have been identified for the project.

One route will run through Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, Salang Pass and Jalalabad before reaching Peshawar and will cost 4.4 cents per unit. The transmission line through this route will stretch 170km in Tajikistan, 430km in Afghanistan and 50km in Pakistan. The World Bank supports this route.

Pakistan supports a route via Wakhan and Chitral whose length is estimated at 700km and its per unit cost in Peshawar is estimated at 4.9 to 5 cents. The line will run 360km in Tajikistan, 30km in Afghanistan (Wakhan) and 310km in Pakistan.

The sources said representatives of the four governments and the World Bank would decide about the route to be adopted during the discussions on July 31.

The World Bank has been trying to persuade Pakistan to import 4,000MW of cheap electricity from Central Asian states, besides working on domestic sources to overcome electricity shortage.

The bank estimates that Pakistan’s peak demand now exceeds 14,000MW and the present installed capacity of 19,500MW has become inadequate on account of wide variations in water availability. The demand is expected to exceed 20,000MW by 2010.

The World Bank says Pakistan should immediately start importing 1,000MW from Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic and then increase imports to 4,000MW in the second phase.

According to the World Bank, the cost of supply from Sangtuda, Rogun, Talimardjan and Kambarata power stations will range between 2.26 cents and 3.75 cents per unit compared with the existing average generation cost in Pakistan of 5.6 cents.

Pakistan is entering into contracts with independent power producers for thermal power generation at a tariff as high as 18 cents per unit.

Another attractive feature of the imports, according to the bank, is that Pakistan’s peak demand occurs in summer when Central Asian power systems have large surplus from their hydroelectric generation stations.