Thar Coal Power Plant starts 660MW commercial operations

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By Dr.Abdul Razzak Shaikh,

Engro Powergen Thar (Private) Limited (EPTL) and Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) on 9th July 2019 successfully declared the Commercial Operations Date (COD) of the first phase of the Thar coal project. The project is a joint venture of the EPTL, a majority-owned company of Engro Energy and SECMC, Sindh government and other corporate partners. SECMC successfully unearthed the first layer of coal in June 2018 and has also completed the 60-day testing period of steady state production of on-specification coal. This culminated the first phase of the mining project.

It’s first power plant burning coal from an open-cast mine is now operational. The electricity generated is lighting up villages, creating jobs and cutting the cost of fuel imports.

The commercial operation date is defined as the date after which all testing and commissioning has been completed and is the initiation date to which the seller can start producing electricity for sale (i.e. when the project has been substantially completed).

On the other hand, EPTL that was tasked to construct two 330MW power plants have also declared its Commercial Operations Date (COD). The EPTL plant demonstrated the proof of concept earlier by synchronizing both the power units in March and April, respectively. The company has since been involved in extensive testing of both the power units and has successfully completed all relevant inspections and commissioning of the plant thereby achieving COD.

The COD milestone of both the mining and the power project is a significant achievement given that the Thar dream has been an elusive reality for millions of Pakistanis for over 27 years. After test operation, now both the mining and the power projects have announced commercial operation with effect from July 9, 2019.

The mining project of SECMC and the EPTL power plant began approximately 3 years ago in 2016, after the financial close of the project led by Engro Energy and in collaboration with other commercial partners, including Sindh government, Thal Limited, HBL, HUBCO, SPIC and China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) for the mine project; and HBL, CMEC and Liberty for the power plant.

Developed in record time, as per schedule and within projected costs, the Thar Coal projects are part of the early harvest component of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework making it truly a project of national and strategic significance.

Engro Corporation’s president called the declaration of the COD of the Thar coal mine and power projects a monumental achievement.

This showcases not just the ability of Engro to deliver on mega projects that are good for Pakistan but also underscores the success of public-private partnership models to deploy inclusive development in the country.

At this juncture, I would like to congratulate the Government of Sindh and the Federal Government, along with all our partner organizations, for their catalytic role and support in helping us deliver on our commitments of the Thar coal projects said President Engro Corporation.

Engro Energy and EPTL Officer said that today the Thar coal project had come full circle as we fulfill the promise to the nation of providing indigenous electricity.

He cited that since the synchronization earlier in April they had been involved in extensive testing of the systems to ensure delivering quality and not compromising on the safety of the project.

We are pleased that our efforts have resulted in delivering engineering excellence on our pioneering coal-fired power plant and have brought us closer to our promise of providing Pakistan with low-cost, affordable and abundant energy.

CEO of SECMC said that congratulated the nation on the achievement and said that the successful culmination of phase-1 of the mining project ahead of schedule, well within projected costs and with a stellar safety record is indeed a remarkable feat. We are now working diligently to pursue phase two of the mining activity as per our expansion plans where we intend to economies the mine and double the production capacity to 7.6 million tons per annum for the additional 2×330 MW power plant scheduled to come online in 2021.

Back in 2015, a Power Purchase Agreement was entered into between EPTL and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company Limited, through its Central Power Purchasing agency on behalf of ex-WAPDA Distribution Companies, in relation to EPL’s 660 MW coal-fired power generation complex at Thar Block II.

Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company is a joint venture between the Government of Sindh, EEL, Thal Limited, Hub Power Company Limited, Habit Bank Limited, CMEC Thar Mining Investments Limited and Huolinhe Open Pit Coal Investment Company.

The agreement further read that the aforementioned projects will usher in a new era of energy security and prosperity for Pakistan which would not have been possible without the support extended by Government of Sindh, Government of Pakistan and all private stakeholders.

The company further said the COD milestone of both the mining and the power projects are a significant achievement has given that the Thar dream had been an elusive reality for millions of Pakistanis for over 27 years.