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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said on Friday that the government is committed to timely completion of power projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Addressing a virtual inauguration of high-power testing of ± 660kV Matiari-Lahore HVDC Transmission Line $1.7 billion project taking place simultaneously in Pakistan and China, he said CPEC was of utmost importance for Pakistan as it would enable the country to enhance industrial production, upgrade energy and communication infrastructure and improve connectivity within the region.

A dispute between NTDC and the Chinese company M/s PMLTC, has recently been sorted out through an amendment to the Implementation Agreement (IA) after high level intervention by extending the Required Commercial Operate Date (RCOD) for six months.

The 878 kilometers 4000 MW project is being executed by Pak-Matiari Lahore Transmission Company (Pvt) Limited, on Built-Own-Operate- Transfer (BOOT) basis for a term of 25 years. The construction of the project is complete and is under testing and commissioning phase. The project will evacuate power from the new generation units located in the south including Thar coal-based projects. The project is included in the CPEC portfolio.

The ECC on July 25, 2017 approved the Security Package Documents i.e. Implementation Agreement (lA) and Transmission Services Agreement (TSA) which were subsequently executed on May 14, 2018. The NTDC will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the transmission line for which an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement was executed with the company on May 14, 2018.

According to sources, on December 2, 2020, severe frequency obligations were observed in the system when the project was under monopole low power testing; consequently, the testing was stopped and the test was declared failed by NTDC and Owner Engineer M/s Hatch, Canada (OE) of NTDC.

The company submitted Root-Cause Analysis report (RCAR), which was reviewed by both Independent Engineer (lE) & OE. OE declared the Certificate of Readiness as null and void and lE & OE recommended certain additional measures to be taken at Matiari converter station prior to start of testing.

Thereafter, NTDC revisited all technical and contractual obligations which were to be fulfilled by the company under the TSA and issued a Notice of Dispute (NoD) on 11 December, 2020 highlighting various contractual obligations not fulfilled by the company and challenged the certificate of readiness as well as testing and commissioning of the project pursuant to section 8.9 of the TSA.

Afterwards, as a result of extensive discussions between NTDC, the company, OE and IE, way forward on resolution of issues was agreed on the issues raised under the Notice of Dispute and MoU was signed between the company and NTDC, which was subsequently approved by respective BoDs of NTDC and the company.

In the light of MoU, draft addendum agreement to the TSA and O&M Services Agreement were agreed between the company and the NTDC and their respective BoDs accorded approval to it.

The minister said that CPEC has generated employment and investment opportunities in Pakistan and beyond. Hammad said the government has also worked to improve electricity transmission system in the country and a record 24,633 MW power was transmitted in current month through its national power system.

He said Matiari Lahore HVDC project was now successfully starting high-power transmission. He appreciated the hard work of NTDC Management, PPIB, PMLTC and State Grid Corporation of China for making the project a huge success.

He said the ± 660kV HVDC transmission line was a new technology in our current AC transmission infrastructure and the line would evacuate power from power plants located in Sindh to the North load centers thus bringing stability in the power system and enhancing the transmission capability to overcome the power crisis in Pakistan. He said the project continued despite the pandemic and was successfully completed. The project would bring relief to the consumers, he said.

Speaking on the occasion Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong congratulated NTDC Pakistan and State Grid Corporation of China for the successful completion of high-power test for Matiari-Lahore HVDC Project.

He also expressed sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Energy, CPEC Authority, NEPRA and China National Energy Administration for unremitting support. "Matiari-Lahore HVDC Project is the only power transmission project in the CPEC priority list, as well as the first HVDC transmission project in Pakistan, devoting itself to address the bottleneck of electricity transmission from south to north and upgrading the layout of Pakistan national grid," he said.

He said over 1,300 Chinese engineers and technicians along with 6500 Pakistani workers overcame the pandemic and worked together intensively. They successfully implemented low-power test and High-power test, and smoothly made it into the new phase of high-power trial run operation in spite of the difficulties and obstacles, "presenting us a good interpretation of China speed in Pakistan," the ambassador said.

He said up to now, CPEC has attained $25.4 billion investment in Pakistan, which increases for Pakistan as much as 5,200 MW of installed power generation capacity, 886,000 meters of national power transmission line, 510 kilometers of highway, and 75,000 jobs created while in the peak time of construction.

He said the year of 2021 marked the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relationship between China and Pakistan. Over the past 70 years, no matter how the international landscape, regional situation and domestic situation of the two countries changed, the two sides have always trusted and supported each other, and the bilateral relationship becomes a model with different social systems, different historic background, he said.

The ambassador said China was willing to work closely with Pakistan to implement the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, and continuously advance the progress of CPEC, enriching the all-weather strategic partnership and building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.

Speaking on the occasion, MD NTDC Muhammad Ayub said low testing of the transmission line had already been conducted during which 800 MW and 2200 MW electricity was successfully transmitted. He said it was a great achievement for both China and Pakistan and the project would bring stability in transmission system. He said the commercial date of operation of the project was September 1, 2021.

CEO Pak Matiari-Lahore Transmission Company Wang Bo and others also spoke on the occasion. The ceremony was also attended by Chairman NEPRA Tauseef H Farooqi, Chairman CPEC Authority Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa (retd), Secretary Power Division Ali Raza Bhutta, MD PPIB Shah Jahan Mirza, the CEO PMLTC, chairman CET China while Chinese senior officials also participated through video link from China.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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