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HYDERABAD: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah Wednesday said that with the launching of 330 MW Hubco power plant, we have successfully added 990 MW coal-fired power to the National Grid, which is not only our great success but is the realisation of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s dream of producing coal-fired energy to empower Pakistan with cheapest and indigenous source of energy.

This he said while speaking at inaugural ceremony of 330 MW coal-fired power project of Hubco and its partners at Thar Coal Block-II. The ceremony was attended by Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, SECMC, EPTL, TEL, TNPTL, CEMC, HBL - the partners in the project.

Shah said that he was proud to participate in the ceremony to celebrate transmission of electricity from Thar Energy Limited utilizing Thar coal. He congratulated HBCO and its partners FFC and CMEC, and also the project team for completion of the project despite multiple challenges.

Murad Ali Shah said that his government has always considered Thar to be cornerstone of Energy Security of Pakistan and has taken all necessary steps to ensure that the dream of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is implemented. “Her vision has been vindicated as Thar coal prices are two to three times cheaper versus imported lignite while saving billions of dollars in foreign exchange,” the CM said and added that the Sindh govt became major shareholder in first Thar coal mining company SECMC and also provided financial guarantee required by Chinese lenders to achieve financial close of the mine.

SECMC unearths 11m tons of coal to generate power, saves $700m per annum

Shah said that his government has provided continuous support to Thar coal IPPs as well as Mining Companies and has ensured provision of necessary infrastructure, including roads, bridges and on top of it Mai Bakhtawar airport so that these projects could function smoothly.

“We are also aware of the water requirements for Thar Power Projects and have made arrangements to ensure uninterrupted water supply for power generation,” Murad said and added that the key driver for development of Thar was the welfare of local population.

Shah said that the development of Thar coal has also brought positive changes in the life of local people as substantial CSR activities were being carried out in the fields of employment, education, medical facilities by Mining and Power generation Companies through Thar Foundation. Murad said that he was also working to ensure ramp up of mine quickly and utilization of Thar coal for energy needs of other industrial sectors including cement, fertilizers and others.

“We are also working closely with federal government to develop rail link for mass transportation of Thar coal,” he said and added that the rail link project would start soon. Murad said that Thar Energy Ltd was a 330MW coal-fired power project based on Thar Coal. He added that it was part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The project is a joint venture among Hub Power Company Ltd (Hubco), Fauji Fertilizer Company Ltd (FFC), China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) and has been completed at a cost of $520 million Foreign financing for the project was arranged from Chinese syndicate, led by China Development Bank whereas local financing has been arranged via a syndicate led by Habib Bank Ltd.

The project started construction in May 2018 from Sponsors’ equity without waiting for financial close to ensure earliest utilization of indigenous Thar Coal. The Financial close of the Project was achieved in January 2020. The project experienced delays due to delays in loan disbursement from Chinese lenders and later due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The project is now in commissioning phase and the chief minister formally switched it on to synchronize it with National Grid on August 3 whereas COD is expected by August 20 to 28.

On the occasion, Hubco Chairman Habibullah and CEO Kamran Kamal also spoke and highlighted the issues they faced in launching the project.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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