PPIB approves extension in COD date for two Thar power projects

In April, the Chinese contractor was granted an extension of seven months to start building of the Matiari-Lahore transmission line expected to cost $1.7 billion

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ISLAMABAD: The Private Power & Infrastructure Board (PPIB) on Friday officially extended the time limit for commercial operations of two Thar-based power projects of 330 megawatts capacity.

This decision has been taken by the PPIB to ensure harmonization of these power plants with the $2 billion Matiari-Lahore transmission line being laid by Chinese contractors, reported Dawn.

Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari chaired the PPIB meeting and approved an extension in a letter of intent for a 300-megawatt coal-based power project to be setup in Gwadar, Balochistan.

Also, the meeting gave approval to an extension in commercial operation dates (COD) of 330MW Thal Nova Thar Power Ltd and 330MW Thar Energy Limited both situated at Thar Block-II.

The revised deadline for COD is March 2021 against the original one of December 2020.

To circumvent contractual liabilities, the COD of Matiari-Lahore transmission line and Thar-based power projects were harmonized.

Mr Leghari informed the PPIB board the extension had been approved to ensure timely completion and harmonization of the transmission line project with the approaching generation projects in Thar and Karachi.

He added electricity transmission from these power plants was heavily contingent in the on-time completion of Matiari-Lahore transmission line project.

Last month, the Chinese contractor was granted an extension of seven months to start building of the Matiari-Lahore transmission line expected to cost $1.7 billion.

The Matiari-Lahore transmission line project comes under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and could be delayed by three years.

Also, an extension of seven months was granted to the Chinese contractor responsible for laying the Matiari-Lahore transmission line until December 1st, 2018 by the ECC of the cabinet.

The finance close date of the 660-kilovolt high-voltage direct current (HVDC) Matiari-Lahore transmission line was also extended till the above-mentioned date.

This decision to extend the financial close deadline was done to correspond this project with the looming coal-fired plants being setup at Thar and the 1,100-megawatt K-2 project based in Karachi.

Work on the laying of the HVDC transmission line was supposed to start this month and be operational by August 2020 as per the revised timelines.

However, the new extension of seven months provided to the Chinese firm means the project would now be delayed and be operational by March 2021.

The project hit snags on multiple occasions as last-November it was reported the Chinese company contracted to execute the project had slowed down the work.

The Chinese company was said to have halted work near sites like Balloki, Bhaipheru and Matiari (Sindh), said official sources back then.