POST TIME: 6 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
200-MW ‘costly’ diesel-based power plant on the cards
Plant to charge PDB Tk 19.96 per unit against current selling rate of Tk 6

200-MW ‘costly’ diesel-based power plant on the cards

The government is going to approve a costly 200-MW diesel-based power plant at Baghabari in Sirajganj, even though there is no need for the plant at this moment as the Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) expects more than 4,000-MW power to be added to the national grid. Sources said the proposal of the plant by the Paramount Bangla Track Consortium will be placed before the Cabinet Purchase Committee soon. The consortium proposed a power price of Tk 19.96 per unit for the PDB against the current consumer price of Tk 6 per unit.

Thus, the plant could cost billions of taka for the nation, sources in the PDB told The Independent. When asked, PDB Chairman Khaled Mahmood denied the allegation. "We need the power plant in Baghabari. This place has a huge demand for power as business and other industrial activities are on the rise in the area,” he said.

However, PDB engineers said the power plant project is unnecessary as the power demand of the country could be met with ongoing projects till 2020. The proposed diesel-based power plant will be a burden on the nation, they added.

As per the government's decision, the diesel plant will be run for five years only as the plant is too costly for the country.

“Paramount does not have any footprint in the power sector,” a Power Division official told The Independent.

Sources said this being the election year, it is very important for the government to look into the power situation as it happens to be one of the most contentious issues for all political parties. The PDB predicts that 3,500–4,000MW of additional power will be injected to the grid this year. Of this, about 1,900MW is expected to be generated by fast-track projects of mixed diesel and furnace oil-based plants by this June.

Besides, more than 500MW of power will be imported from India this year. Currently, the PDB imports 500MW of power from the India.  Also this year, a coal-based 275-MW unit, gas-based 365-MW Ghorasal plant, the 220-MW Shiddirganj unit, and the 420-MW Sirajganj unit will be added to the grid.

In 2019, the coal-based 1,350-MW Payra plant and some LNG-based plants will be added to the grid. So, the proposed 200-MW diesel power plant will not be run in full capacity for quite some time. Sources said the 200-MW plant was negotiated in an unprecedented manner in the power sector. In last November, the negotiation committee, headed by Power Division Secretary Dr Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, had approved a proposal called PPV Energy (Paramount-Primodal V Energy) through a negotiation. After a few weeks, Paramount Group denied to give any acceptance letter, even though it was supposed to do so. Next, the group announced that it would drop the joint venture and form another venture with Paramount Acorn Energy Consortium.  

But only after few days, the group changed the decision and reorganised as the Paramount Bangla Track Consortium. After this fiasco, the Power Division was hesitant to award the project to Paramount Group. But it could not take a decision on the matter due to strong political pressure.

Last month, the negotiation committee again met with the Paramount-Bangla Track Consortium and fixed the power price at Tk 19.96.  The Power Division said the government will have to spend Tk 14,000 crore in their 5-year contract period.

The division also sent  a proposal of Consortium of Hangzhou Jinjiang Group Co. Ltd., Hangzhou Zhengcai Holding Group Co. Ltd. & Jindun Energy Equipment (Hong Kong) Ltd for 1,350-MW coal-based power plant at Mirershorai, Chittagong to the Cabinet Division. The consortium proposed Tk 6.52 for per unit.    

Bangla Trac already was awarded more than 500-MW unsolicited oil-based power plants last year. Shakhawat Hossain, Managing Director of Paramount Group, could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts. The Power Division is apparently pushing for more power as early as possible to face the next national election. On August 9 last year, the cabinet committee for purchase had approved 10 unsolicited fuel-based power plants to meet the growing demand for power.

The projects will cost the government Tk 140,532 crore during the contract period. Of this amount, the government will have to spend Tk 55,814 crore to buy 800MW of power every day for the next five years from four diesel-based plants, while it will be Tk 84,718 crore for 968MW from six furnace oil-based plants over the next 15 years.  According to the contract, seven furnace oil-based power plants will supply electricity to the BPDB at Tk 10.50 cent per unit.