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Fast-track energy projects go off-track

Only LNG terminal gets off the ground

FHM Humayan Kabir | May 17, 2018 12:00:00

The four "fast-track" power and energy projects except one have failed to make any notable progress and these are still at the initial stage of implementation, insiders said Wednesday.

The LNG (Liquefied National Gas) terminal project is the one that has managed to show better progress, they said.

Of the power projects, the construction of the 1,320 megawatt (mw) Moitree super thermal power plant at Rampal, the Matarbari 1,200 mw ultra-super critical coal-fired power plant, and the 2,400 mw Rooppur nuclear power plant were initiated a few months back, though those were approved years ago, the insiders and government officials said.

The Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL) has so far implemented 13.71 per cent of the main segment of the Moitree super thermal power plant. The company could spend Tk 21.93 billion until March of the financial year (FY) 2017-18 out of its estimated cost -- Tk 160 billion.

The company gave work order to an Indian contractor BHEL in April last year to complete the first unit, having 600 mw generation capacity, of the Rampal Power Plant by October, 2020.

A Power Division official said the ministry is sceptical about getting the supply of power from the Rampal plant on time as its execution started late.

The progress of the Matarbari power plant project is also not satisfactory as only 14 per cent of its work has so far been executed, project insiders said.

The government approved the Matarbari project of the state-owned Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL) in August 2014. The cost of the project is Tk 359.84 billion.

According to an official report, the coal power company could spend 14 per cent of its total allocation until March this year.

The CPGCBL is constructing the Matarbari power plant with financial support from the Japanese government. A couple of units each with 600mw generation capacity will be built under the project.

The company appointed a Japanese consortium -- Sumitomo Corporation-Toshiba-IHI -- for setting up the plant. The Japanese consortium started the work in August last year.

A senior official of the company told the FE that its first unit is expected to be commissioned in January 2024 and the second one in June 2024.

He said that the port development work at Matarbari in Maheshkhali Island is going on by Sumitomo and its partners, which is expected to start operation from June 2021.

The land development work there has been going on in full swing. The work is scheduled to be completed by February 2020, said the official on condition of anonymity.

The project work was suspended for nearly six months after the terrorist attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in July 2016 where some Japanese nationals were killed.

The progress of the Roopur nuclear power plant project is also progressing at a slow pace as its main work for installing the reactors has not started yet, although the government signed an agreement with Russia in November 2011.

The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) is implementing the Rooppur project with financial and technical support from Russia.

The commission has split the total work into two phases, of which the first phase involving Tk 50.87 billion has almost been completed.

Under the phase-1, the Nuclear Energy Commission has been doing preparatory work that include feasibility evaluation, engineering survey and environmental studies.

It has also been preparing design documentation, preliminary safety analysis and probabilistic safety analysis reports alongside carrying out the quality assurance programme.

In the phase-2, the commission is supposed to install two nuclear power reactors having 1,200 mw capacity each at a cost of Tk 2.246 trillion.

But the Russian company started the work a few months back, although the power plant is scheduled to be completed by December 2025, a relevant official said.

The ministry is also sceptical about commissioning the project within the present deadline, added the official.

In March, the government also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India and Russia for supporting the implementation of the Rooppur plant.

The deal was signed in Moscow between Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom), science and technology ministry of Bangladesh and the Department of Atomic Energy of India.

Under the deal, Indian companies may be included in the construction and installation work, supply of materials and equipment of a non-critical category in the interest of the project.

The LNG terminal project being implemented on a G-to-G (government-to-government) basis has made a remarkable progress as the maiden consignment of LNG and its re-gasification plant arrived in Maheshkhali from Qatar and the USA respectively to supply the imported gas to the national grid.

Petrobangla officials said the first consignment of LNG reached Chittagong through the Excelerate Energy's floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) in April this year.

Petrobangla Chairman Abul Mansur Md. Faizullah told the FE that the LNG will be supplied to the national grid within this month.

"We are hopeful about commissioning the FSRU within this month", he said adding the next consignment is expected in mid-June with separate LNG vessel.

Before making available to the national network, the imported LNG will have to be re-gasified through the FSRU.

Bangladesh signed a contract with Qatar's state-owned RasGas to import LNG and a process is underway to sign more deals for the purpose.

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