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LNG has become expensive exceeding USD 15.0/mmBtu and price scenario remains uncertain for the coming winter. Furnace Oil (FO), which was almost replaced by LNG, has become cheaper and seems to be emerging once again. Will LNG-FO price ratio remain to the disadvantage of LNG for a long time? There is confusion now whether FO-based power plants should be shut down or not as opposed to a consensus earlier for its closure? What are the other fuel alternatives? What is the future of combined cycle power plants?

LNG was introduced in Pakistan for two reasons: (i) Local gas fields are depleting and local chapter gas production has been going down; and (ii) HSFO has been expensive (by 20% on the average) than LNG and HSFO power plants were much less efficient than combined cycle power plants running on gas/RLNG. Highest efficiency of new oil-fired power plants has been quoted at 40%.Older oil-fired power plants such as GENCOs and KE are even less efficient (28-30%). A decision has been made by Power Division and power regulator Nepra to close down such plants. However, this could not happen initially for demand reasons and later due to transmission constraints. Nepra has been reprimanding NTDC, CPPA-G and PCC for repeating the usage of oil plants but they have continued it. Hubco has been on the agenda for a long time now about which we will discuss later in this space.

HSFO is a co-product of a number of oil refineries in Pakistan, although most of the oil refineries are switching to deep conversion which eliminates/converts production of HSFO. HSFO was used to be imported as well due to a high share (40%). Import of HSFO is no more. However, HSFO continues to be produced some of which continues to be used in continued running of oil power plants. There has been an installed capacity of 7500 MW of oil plants out of which 1500 GW has been used irregularly on the need basis.

It appeared earlier that finally the time of these plants is over. However, recent price increase of LNG has made oil plants and HSFO relevant again. SPOT LNG prices have been quite low for the last three years going down even to 2 -3 USD/mmBtu level, albeit briefly. Average RLNG prices including about 2 USD overheads remained at 8-10 USD. In winters, however, LNG prices did touch the 15 USD/mmBtu mark. This time, LNG prices crossed the 15 USD mark even in summer. It is being projected that winter prices may even be higher.

All commodity prices are at high prices these days. This is the classical capitalist cycle. Low demand pushes the prices lower than even cost which discourage investments in capacity which when demand increases pushes the prices due to lower capacity and supply. This is a 5-7 years cycle usually, unless there is change in technology as has happened in the case of Shale gas in the US.

Recently, the price of HSFO remained at 10 USD/mmBtu while LNG price crossed the 15 USD/mmBtu mark. The price difference has come down but still HSFO remains cheaper.

In winters, residential sector's demand increases to 2.5 times the summer demand in the SNGPL region. Thus it appears that in the coming winter, oil power plants could emerge as viable and needed ones.

The PPA contract of Hubco oil-fired plant (1200MW) is expiring in 2027. Due to higher oil prices, Hubco hardly runs at more than 1%. CPPA-G will pay an estimated Rs 260 billion in terms of fixed capacity charges. The present value of these future payments comes out to be Rs 65 billion. The government is said to have been proposed to buy out this plant. There has been a proposal made by Hubco to convert the oil-fired power plant to Thar coal which also involves some valuation of the present value of the future series of payments. The problem has many dimensions. Firstly, the government is not flush with cash so as to retire future liabilities earlier. Secondly, there is an excess capacity. Thirdly, even newly-built combined cycle power plants are projected to be almost redundant due to high LNG prices and due to the induction of relatively cheaper base load power plants like coal and nuclear. Fourthly, there are Genco FO power plants which are of low efficiency and are on 'Take or Pay'. Shouldn't such GENCO plants be the candidates for buy-out by government as also emphasized by Nepra? Fifthly, there are ten other oil-fired power plants which are producing electricity regularly, although at a lower load factor. What is wrong with Hubco? Why isn't it working like others? If it has some problems, why should the government bail it out through public funds? Why to have a specific treatment for one power plant?

It may be noted that it was only recently that Nepra had to extend PPAs of two oil power plants-Gul Ahmad and Tapal-with a combined generation capacity of about 300MW, while the PPAs of the two plants were expired. Now KE will be importing LNG (probably more expensive than HSFO) for a new LNG power plant of 550MW. Capacity payment of Rs 240 billion will have to be made by the government for an under-utilized Hubco! Separation of generation, transmission and distribution has been on the cards for a very long time.

In passing, it must be mentioned here that Thar coal's fate has been compromised by those who manipulated its tariff to a very high level. Its production cost elsewhere is 20-25 USD/t at the comparable mine characteristics. It has not required elsewhere scale economy argument to be able to mine and sell at a reasonable price. Small mines in Eastern Europe are producing at afore-mentioned cost, while Thar coal's cost is more than double. Fortunately, Thar coal board has become alive to this and has taken steps to reduce these costs. There are other investigations that are purportedly going on in this respect. International opinion against coal is building fast. Only a reasonable Thar coal price may compensate the externalities that may come to be imposed. Furthermore, Railway link for transporting Thar coal has been put into jeopardy by ambitious businessmen who are asking a subsidy in CAPEX for installing this link. The simpler solution would have been to give it to Pakistan Railways under a normal tariff system and financed under the Public Sector Development Plan (PSDP).

For high demand and price reason of gas/LNG in winters, alternate solutions may have to be found out. Combined cycle power plants can be run on Naphtha and as well as condensate. These are currently being exported. There are logistical problems in its exports as well. If these two fuels are stored for winter period, LNG problem can be partly resolved for winter season. We have earlier written a full length article (RLNG: no panacea) in this regard. The reader is referred to it in case of interest. Biogas, bio-CNG and coal gasification can improve gas supplies and stabilize prices, reducing the impact of uncertain LNG prices.

(The writer is former Member Energy, Planning Commission and author

of several books on the energy sector)

=============================================================================================================================
TABLE 4
=============================================================================================================================
Installed Capacity by Type (MW)
=============================================================================================================================
As on 30th June                                       2016              2017            2018             2019            2020
=============================================================================================================================
HYDEL
=============================================================================================================================
WAPDA Hydel                                          6,902             6,902           8,341            9,389           9,389
IPPs Hydel                                             214               214             372              372             472
Sub-Total                                            7,116             7,116           8,713            9,761           9,861
% Share (Hydel Installed Capacity)                   27.99             24.78           24.22            25.03           25.47
=============================================================================================================================
THERMAL
=============================================================================================================================
GENCOs: CPPA-G System                                5,897             5,897           5,637            5,637           4,881
KE Own                                               1,874             1,874           2,294            2,294           2,294
IPPs: CPPA-G System                                  8,643            10,566          15,297           16,946          17,276
IPPs: KE System                                        252               252             366              366             366
SPPs/CPPs/N-CPPs: CPPA-G System                          0               313             340              340             340
SPPs/CPPs/N-CPPs connected with KE                      35                87              87               87              87
Sub-Total                                           16,701            18,989          24,020           25,670          25,244
% Share (Thermal Installed Capacity)                 65.70             66.14           66.76            65.83           65.20
=============================================================================================================================
NUCLEAR.
=============================================================================================================================
CHASNUPP (I, II, III and IV)                           615             1,005           1,330            1,330           1,330
KANUPP                                                 137               137             137              137             137
Sub-Total                                              752             1,142           1,467            1,467           1,467
% Share (Nuclear Installed Capacity)                  2.96              3.98            4.08             3.76            3.79
=============================================================================================================================
RENEWABLE ENERGY {WIND, SOLAR AND BAGASSE)
=============================================================================================================================
Wind Power Plants                                      306               785           1,048            1,248           1,248
Solar Power Plants                                     400               400             430              430             430
Bagasse based Power Plants                             146               280             301              369             369
RE Power Plants: CPPA-G System                         852             1,465           1,779            2,047           2,047
Solar Power Plants: KE System                            0                 0               0               50             100
RE Power Plants: KE System                               0                 0               0               50             100
Sub-Total                                              852             1,465           1,779            2,097           2,147
% Share (RE Installed Capacity)                       3.35              5.10            4.94             5.38            5.55
Total Installed Capacity of the Country             25,421            28,712          35,979           38,995          38,719
=============================================================================================================================
Source: WAPDA/GENCOs/lPPs/KE/CPPA-G
==================================================================
Nuclear                         NTDC            KE           Total
==================================================================
Hydro                          9,861             0           9,861
Nuclear                        1,330           137           1,467
Wind                           1,248             0           1,248
Solar                            430           100             530
Gas                           13,814         2,421          16,235
Coal                           4,770            52           4,822
RFO                            3,913           262           4,175
Bagasse                          369             0             369
==================================================================
TOTAL                         35,735         2,972          38,707
==================================================================
Gross Capacities at 30-Jun-2020
========================================================================================================================================================================================
TABLE 8
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Plant-wise Electricity Generation (GWh)
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Power Station                                             Primary              Alternate         2015-16             2016-17            2017-18*            2018-19*            2019-20*
                                                             Fuel                   Fuel
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Al: Hydel (WAPDA)
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Major Hydropower Units
Tarbela                                                     Hydel                  Hydel       15,990.31           15,049.44           13.356.B6           10.619.28
Tarbela 4th Ext.                                            Hydel                  Hydel               -                   -                                2,318.06            5,498.03
Ghazi Barotha                                               Hydel                  Hydel        6,721.69            6,885.76            6.020.89            6.552.14            6.S51.36
Mangla                                                      Hydel                  Hydel        6,864.40            5,347.57            4.141.86            3,860.85            4,686,36
Warsak                                                      Hydel                  Hydel          924.25              985.44              916.53            1.002.27            1.104,95
Chashma                                                     Hydel                  Hydel          897.05              890.33              756.00              767.16              751.58
Khan Khwar                                                  Hydel                  Hydel           37.64              199.06              170.90              237.74              279.12
Allai Khwar                                                 Hydel                  tydel          568.42              396.66                                  462.09
Jinnah Hydel                                                Hydel                  Hydel          296.32              292.69              230.25              225.63
Duber Khwar                                                 Hydel                  Hydel          643.07              589.47              514.83              594.42
Neelum Jhelum                                               Hydel                  Hydel               -                   -              174.08                                4.842,30
Golen Gol                                                   Hydel                  Hydel               -                   -                                   99.31               88.85
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Small Hydropower Units
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Dargai                                                      Hydel                  Hydel          114.58              104.80               95.72              109.35               98.91
Rasul                                                       Hydel                  Hydel           95.98               93.47               65.54               71.86               36,56
Shadiwal                                                    Hydel                  Hydel           25.55               31.05               25.93               28.39               14.25
Chichoki Mallian                                            Hydel                  Hydel           34.16               34.23               31.43               29.05
Nandipur                                                    Hydel                  Hydel           40.75               43.15               45.73               36.97               35.25
Kurram Garhi                                                Hydel                  Hydel           23.40               18.44               17.24               14.23               15.28
Renata                                                      Hydel                  Hydel            2.03                2.20                2.31                2.19                2.08
Chitral                                                     Hydel                  Hydel            3.60                4.20                3.45                3.51
Gomal 2am                                                   Hydel                  Hydel           11.86                6.17                0.36               32.68               55.25
Malakand/Jabban                                             Hydel                  Hydel          138.27              117.16              105.39              135.99              139.02
Total Hydel (WAPDA)                                                                            33,433.33           31,091.29           26,951.19           31,167.85           37,425.41
A2: Hydel (lPPs)
Malakand-III (PEDO)                                         Hydel                  Hydel          425.00              426.00              362.11              399.25              408.53
Pehur (PEDO)                                                Hydel                  Hydel           40.00               45.00               32.61               35.86
Laraib Energy (AJ&K)                                        Hydel                  Hydel          545.00              424.00              389.66              354.38
Garam Chashma                                               Hydel                  Hydel            0.00                0.00                0.00
Marala Hydro (PPDCL)                                        Hydel                  Hydel               -                   -                0.74              527.45
Patrind Hydro (AJ&K)                                        Hydel                  Hydel               -                   -              246,20              527.45              566.25
Gulpur Hydropower Project                                   Hydel                  Hydel               -                   -                                                       34.33
Total Hydel (IPPs)                                                                              1,121.00              988.00            1,118.24            1.928.04            1.562.55
Total Hydel (A1+A2)                                                                            34,554.33           32,079.29           28,069.43           33,095.89           38,987.96
========================================================================================================================================================================================
B1: Thermal (GENCOs: CPPA-G System)
========================================================================================================================================================================================
TPS Jamshoro                                              RFO/Gas                    RFO        3,246.46            3,253.56            1,792.06              880.09              209.90
GTPS Kotri                                                    Gas                    HSD          582.02              338.67               94.92               37.19
TPS Guddu (Units 1-4)                                         Gas                    RFO          148.64              227.08              258.11               10.02                0.00
TPS Guddu (Units 5-10)                                        Gas                      -        2,058.19            2,487.81            3.617.95            3.467.30            1,294.64
TPS Guddu (Units 11-13)                                       Gas                      -          272.26              820.54            1.043.97              B37.20
TPS Guddu (Units 14-16)                                       Gas                    HSD        3,551.47            4,543.55            3,855.08            5.069.78
TPS Quetta                                                    Gas                      -          111.29               53.32                0.00                0.00
TPS Muzaffargarh                                              Gas                    RFO        4,644.65            5,160.13            3,040.37              836.73
SPS Faisalabad                                                Gas                    RFO           85.84              107.68                6.26                0.00
GTPS Faisalabad                                               Gas                    HSD          275.16              214.62              105.29              149.53                0.00
TPS Nandipur                                                  Gas                    HSD        1,267.78            1,379.05           2.3 81.70            1,729.09            1,476.33
FBC Lakhra                                                   Coal                   Coal          148.16              123.97                3.39                0.06                0.00
Total Thermal (GENCOs: CPPA-G System)                                                          16,391.91           18,709.99           16,199.10           13,016-99            7,907.85
========================================================================================================================================================================================
B2: Thermal {IPPs: CPPA-G System)
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Lai Pir Power                                                 RFO                      -        1,946.10            1,601.09            1,089.06              613.80              186.32
Pak Gen. power                                                RFO                      -          878.13            1,727.18            1,237.28              495.56              149.76
Altern Energy                                                 Gas                      -          184.60              198.30              145.12               22.03                3.73
Fauji Kabirwala                                               Gas                    HSD        1,138.06            1,122.84            1,017.26              563.13              346.32
Habibullah Coastal                                            Gas                    HSD          563.03              785.90              880.33              716.78              108.37
Hub Power                                                     RFO                      -        7,546.99            6,793.11            5,196.60              814.43               32.38
KAPCO                                                         Gas                RFO/HSD        6,757.00            7,524.00            7,436 76            4,959.40            3,476.67
Kohinoor Energy                                               RFO                      -          877.41              816.83              645.40              387.44              363.86
Rousch Power                                                  Gas                    HSD        2,970.66            2,459.69            2,591.64            1,035.85              217.53
Saba Power                                                    RFO                      -           70.59              510.46              465.88              225.41               50.S3
TNB Liberty Power                                             Gas                    HSD        1,491.36            1,430.23            1,041.56            1,307.61              896.74
Uch Power                                                     Gas                    HSD        4,213.96            4,406.44            4.442.99            3,895.85            4,087.33
Attock Gen.                                                   RFO                      -        1,179.30            1,135.41              912.45              532.18              320.96
Atlas Power                                                   RFO                      -        1,320.46            1,336.90            1,246.45              691.30              259.33
Engro Powergen. Qadirpur                                      Gas                    HSD        1,222.00            1,731.00            1,668.42            1,385.13              700.74
Saif Power                                                    Gas                    HSD        1,088.78              905.44              841.56              828.20              476.28
Orient Power                                                  Gas                    HSD        1,155.62              944.68              041.39              877.80              338.00
Nishat Power                                                  RFO                      -        1,272.16            1,239.76            1,171.19              675.10              277.46
Nishat Chunian                                                RFO                      -        1,240.16            1,350.33            1,099.67              599.74              351.23
Sapphire Electric                                             Gas                    HSD        1,056.42              989.71              814.96              808.51              296.76
Halmore Power                                                 Gas                    HSD          916.00              553.00              871.01              612.91              347.69
Narowal Energy                                                RFO                      -        1,161.91            1,334.18            1,199.68              636.13              338.08
Liberty Power Tech.                                           RFO                      -        1,277.44            1,369,33            1,175.61              776.26              458.54
Foundation Power                                              Gas                      -        1,211.48            1,382.85            1.392.39            1.330.60              777.30
Davis Energen.                                                Gas                                  74.00               61.05                8.82                0.00                0.00
Uch-II Power                                          Low BTU Gas                               2,332.81            2,731.34            2,593.04            3,018.37            2,148.02
Huaneng Shandong Ruyi                             Bituminous Coal                                      -              873.17            8,461.59            8,220.07            6,167.19
QATPL (Bhikki)                                               RLNG                    HSD               -              502.77            3,655.62            6,149.75            5,192.50
NPPMCL (HBS)                                                 RING                    HSD               -              155.11            2,856.73            7,027.24            7,050.34
NPPMCL (Balloki)                                             RLNG                    HSD               -                   -            2,050.62            5,284.19            5,911.84
Port Qasim Electric Power                         Bituminous Coal                    HSD               -                   -            3,319,02            7,553,64            8,969.74
Reshma Power                                             RFO/HSFO                                      -                   -               60.86               15.11                2.07
Gulf Powergen                                            RFO/HSFO                                      -                   -                2.78                0.00                0.00
China Power Hub                                     Imported Coal                                      -                   -                   -              260.82            6,136.20
Engro Powergen Thar                                     Thar Coal                                      -                   -                   -              277.42            4,280.22
Total Thermal (IPPs/SPPs/CPPs: CPPA-G System)                                                  45,146.42           47,972.10           62.433.73           62,597.73           60.720,31
Total Thermal: CPPA-G System (B1+B2)                                                           61,538.33           66,682.09           78,632.82           75,614.72           68,628.16
========================================================================================================================================================================================
C: Nuclear
========================================================================================================================================================================================
CHASNUPP-I                                                    NUC                    NUC        1,486.00            2,118.00            2,433.42            2,141.02            2,044.64
CHASNUPP-II                                                   NUC                    NUC        2,368.00            2,315.00            2,301.74            2,262.73            2,636.12
CHASNUPP-III                                                  NUC                    NUC               -            1,435.00            2,246.55            2,484.34            2,322.85
CHASNUPP-IV                                                   NUC                    NUC               -                   -            1,738.16            2,117.59            2,701.28
KANUPP                                                        NUC                    NUC          362.00              410.00              330.86              129.99              193.00
Total Nuclear (C)                                                                               4,216.00            6,278.00            9,050.73            9,135.67            9,897.89
========================================================================================================================================================================================
D: Import
========================================================================================================================================================================================
Import from Iran (Tavanir)                                                                        463.00              496.00              554.74              486.80              513.74
Total Import: CPPA-G System (D)                                                                   463.00              496.00              554.74              486.80              513.74
================================================================================================================================================================================================
TABLE 15
================================================================================================================================================================================================
Thermal Electricity Generation by Sector arid by Fuel (GWh)
                                                                                                         2015-16             2016-17            2017-18*            2018-19*            2019-20*
================================================================================================================================================================================================
Thermal Generation by:
================================================================================================================================================================================================
GENCOs (1. II. HI and IV)                                                                             16.391 .91           18.709.99           16,199.10           13.016 99            7.907.85
KE Own Power Plants                                                                                    10,323.00           10,147.00           10,337.75           10,727.68           10,358.00
IPPs: CPPA-G System                                                                                    45.146.42           47.972.10           62,463.23           62,597.73           60,720.31
IPPs: KE System                                                                                         1,421.00                1.53                                2,131.72            1,862.68
Others (SPPs/CPPs/N-CPPs): CPPA-G System                                                                  251.00              271.40              665.53              405.13              170.99
Others (SPPs/CPPs/N-CPPs): KE System                                                                      139.00              187.00              550.49              523.74              535.00
Total Thermal Generation                                                                               73.672.33           78,818.49           92,013.90           89,402.99           81.554.B3
Thermal Generation                              using:
                                                CPPA-G          Generation on Gas (GWh)                29.497.42           31.520,24           23.291.97           22.439.40           15,236.00
                                                System**        Share of Gas Generation (%)                40.04               39.99               25.31               25.10               18.68
Gas                                             KE              Generation on Gas (GWh)                 8,065.00            6.768.50            6,374.93            5,571.15            5,379.18
                                                System'         Share of Gas Generation {%)                10.95                8.59                6.93                6.23                6.60
                                                Total           Generation on Gas (GWh)                37,562.42           38,288.74           29,666.90           28,010.55           20,615.48
                                                                Share of Gas Generation (%)                50.99               48.58               32.24               31.33               25.28
                                                CPPA-G          Generation on RLNG (GWh,                    0.00                               20,678.32           28.148.92           23,830.58
                                                System          Share of RLNG Generatior                                        1.83               22.47               31.49               29.22
RLNG                                            KE System       Generation on RLNG (GWh                     0.00                0.00              496.34            2,664.40            2.985.50
                                                                Share of RLNG Generation (%)                0.00                0.00                0.54                2.98                3.66
                                                Total           Generation on RLNG (GWh)                    0.00              657.88           21,174.66           30,813.32           26,816.08
                                                                Share of RLNG Generation (%}                0.00                0.83               23.01               34.47               32,88
                                                CPPA-G          Generation on RFO (GW                  30,631.47                               22,755.88            9.091.79
                                                System          Share of RFO Generatior                    41.5E               40.69               24.73
                                                KE              Generation on RFO (GWh)
                                                System**        Share of RFO Generation (*VI           34,449.47           37,108.20           28,159.18           13,825.87            8,156.25
                                                                Generation on RFO (GWh)                    46.76               47.08               30.60               15.46               10.00
                                                Total           Share of RFO Generation (%)             1,512.28            1.704.54                                   27.74                0.67
                                                CPPA-G          Generation on HSD (GWh)                     2.05                2.16                0.86                0,03                0.00
                                                System          Share of HSD Generatioi                     0.00                0.00                0.00                0.00                0.00
HSD                                             KE System       Generation on HSD (GWh)                     0.00                0.00                0.00                0.00                0.00
                                                                Share of HSD Generation (%)             1.512.28            1,704.54              788.18               27.74                0.67
                                                Total           Generation on HSD (GWh)                     2.05                2.16                0.86                0.03                0.00
                                                                Share of HSD Generation (%)               148.16              997.14           11,786.50            16,312.0           25,553.34
                                                CPPA-G          Generation on Coal (GWh)                    0.20                1.27               12.81               18.25               31.33
                                                System          Share of Coat Generation (V                 0.00               62.00              438.49              413.51              413.00
Coal                                            KE System       Generation on Coal (GWh)                    0.00                5.85                3.59                2.47                1.59
                                                                Share of Coal Generation (%)              146.16            1,059.14           12,224.99           16,725.52           25.966.34
                                                Total           Generation on Coal (GWh)                    0.20                1.34               13.29               18,71               31.84
                                                                Share of Coal Generation (%)           73,672.33           78,818.50           92,013.91           89,402.99           81,554.82
================================================================================================================================================================================================
Total Thermal Generation
* Net Electricity Generation during FY2017-18. 2018-19 and2019-20.
** Including generation of SPPs/CPPs/N-CPPs in CPPA-G System.
* Including generation of IPPs in KE System.
* Including generation of IPPs/CPPs in KE System.
Source: GENCOs/IPPs/KE
==================================================================
Power Plants capacity (MW) and Generation (GWh)-2019-20
==================================================================
          MW          GWH          MW (%)          GWH (%)
==================================================================
Hydro            9861          28069          25.48          20.75
Nuclear          1330           9898           3.44           7.32
Wind             1248           2882           3.22           2.13
Solar             530            705           1.37           0.52
Gas             16235          20615          41.94          15.24
RLNG             4834          26816          12.49          19.83
RFO              4175           8156          10.79           6.03
Coal             4822          25966          12.46          19.20
Bagasse           369            564           0.95           0.42
==================================================================
Total           38707          135259        100.00         100.00
==================================================================
Source: NEPRA SOI 2019-20, includes KE,NTDC

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

Syed Akhtar Ali

The writer is former Member Energy, Planning Commission .He has authored a number of books on the energy sector. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the newspaper

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