Balkhash Ulken power station

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The Balkhash Ulken power station was a proposed 1,320-megawatt (MW) thermal power station at Ulken in Balkhash district in southeastern Kazakhstan. The proposed plant was an on-again, off-again project with recent proposed completion dates of 2017,[1] 2018,[2] 2019,[3] 2020,[4] and, most recently, 2022.[5]

The plant was called off in 2016.


The map below shows the location of Ulken in Balkhash district in southeastern Kazakhstan, but not the exact location of the proposed power station.

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The plant was originally planned in the 1970s to be 4,000 MW to service growing demand from the chemical industry, household demand, and general industry. Due to lack of funding in 1996, the project was cancelled.[6]

In March 2009 Samsung participated in a "signing ceremony for an agreement for cooperation concerning" the proposed power plant.[7]

In September 2009, the company held a "groundbreaking ceremony" at the construction site in Ulken. At the time, Samsung stated that "our company has been pursuing the project since it signed the agreement with the Kazakhstani government in August 2011". It put the cost of the project at US$4.3 billion and stated that Samsung Engineering "is participating as the EPC contractor."[8]

In late August 2011, an Inter Government Agreement was signed between the Korean and Kazakhstani governments. According to a Samsung media release "the IGA is an agreement that allows the Korean and Kazakhstani governments to reaffirm the Korean consortium’s rights in the Balkhash power plant project, while stipulating that the contract will remain in force even if related laws are revised."[1]

At the time, Samsung stated that it planned "to finalize key contracts for the thermal power plant in 2012 and begin construction. The construction is scheduled to end in 2017." The IGA, Samsung, proclaimed, "provided a concrete foundation for our company to successfully launch the Balkhash coal-powered thermal power plant project."[1]

In January 2012, the government decided to construct 1,000 to 1,300 MW as the first stage in a plant which could eventually be 3,000 to 4,000 MW. The government called for bids for the project and in 2012 awarded it to a consortium comprising South Korean companies Samsung and Korea Electric Power Corporation(KEPCO).[6]

In June 2012, Samsung Engineering announced that it had been awarded a $2.1 billion construction contract "on a lump-sum turnkey basis" for the project, which it stated was expected to take 60 months to build and be completed by 2018.[9]

In 2013, it was reported that consortium companies would provide US$900 million for the project with Kazakhstan's Samruk Energy contributing US$300 million.[2]

In June 2014, it was reported that the project had "been delayed for three years due to financing problems".[10]

However, at a June 19, 2014 meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana between South Korean President Park and Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the project was revived. It was reported that "the latest contract with the Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company is expected to get the project going again. The amount of electric power the state-run electricity utility promised to purchase is $940 million a year for 20 years, or $18.8 billion in total, which is equivalent to 9 percent of total Kazakh electricity consumption a year."[10]

In its media release, Samsung referred to the agreement as a "capacity purchase agreement" under which "a power plant with a capacity of 1,320MW is built with a 20-year capacity purchase term."[11]

A Korean presidential official stated that “the project financing will be completed within the year, and the construction of the plant will be finished on April, 2019.”[3]

In September 2015, it was reported that Samsung Engineering had suspended work on the project. "Samsung Engineering has been forced to temporarily halt the operation of the project because of an issue over the guaranteed purchase of the power to be produced from the project," CEO Park Jung-heum said. He stated that due to the "issue" over power purchase Samsung Engineering had experienced difficulty in raising finance to continue construction.[12]

In September 2016, Samsung C&T and Samsung Engineering said they had terminated the contract for the plant. Samsung C&T said the company decided to drop the contract as factors such as low oil prices and a delay in regulatory approval undermined the business rationale.[13]


In 2009, it was stated that "the Korean consortium will have 65%-1 shares in the Balkhash coal-fired power plant, while Samruk Energy will hold 25%+1 shares and Kazakhmys 10%. Even if a new entity enters the project, the Korean consortium will maintain 50%+1 shares," a Samsung media release stated.[7]

In September 2012, Samsung stated that the project would have "equity investments from the Korean consortium which includes Samsung C&T and KEPCO and Kazakhstani government-run power generation corporation, Samruk Energy."[8]

In a June 2014 media release, Samsung stated that "the project is owned by Samsung C&T and Samruk Energy, the national energy corporation of Kazakhstan, with the parties holding a 75% and 25% share, respectively, and KEPCO will participate in the project as the largest shareholder after the feasibility study upon a request of Kazakhstan."[11]

Samsung stated in its media release that "the project will lay a foundation for Korean businesses to advance into the power generation market of CIS as well as Kazakhstan."[11]

Coal Supply

The plant would have burned coal from the Ekibastuz coal basin.[2]

Project Details

  • Owner: JSC Balkhash TPP
  • Parent company: Samsung C&T (75%) and Samruk Energy (25%)[11]
  • Location: Ulken in Balkhash district in southeastern Kazakhstan
  • Coordinates: 45.207419, 73.957572 (approximate)
  • Status: Cancelled
  • Capacity: 1,320 MW (Units 1-2: 660 MW)
  • Type:
  • Projected in service:
  • Coal Type:
  • Coal Source: Ekibastuz coal basin [2]
  • Source of financing:

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Samsung, "IGA for Kazakhstan Coal-based Thermal Power Plant Signed", Media Release, August 26, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Kazakh parliament approves South Korean power plant deal," Energo, September 25, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Korea-Kazakhstan Summit: S. Korea, Kazakhstan Agree to Expand Joint Economic Cooperation Projects", BusinessKorea, June 20, 2014.
  4. Samsung Engineering, IR Presentation: 2015", February 2015, page 6.
  5. "Launch of Balkhash thermal power plant might be postponed", Tengri News, October 23, 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "About Company", Balkhash Thermal Power Plant website, accessed June 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Samsung, "Samsung C&T consortium signs agreement for cooperation for thermal power plant project", May 14, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Samsung, "Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Balkhash Thermal Power Plant", Media Release, September 13, 2012.
  9. Samsung Engineering, "Samsung Engineering Wins Kazakhstan Power Plant Project from BTPP", Media Release, June 26, 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Samsung C&T to Sell $19 Bil. Electric Power to Kazakh Government", Korea IT Times, June 20, 2014.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Samsung, "Samsung C&T Signs Capacity Purchase Agreement for Balkhash Power Project", Media Release, June 20, 2014.
  12. Kim Yoo-chul, "Samsung Engineering suspends Kazakhstan project", Korea Herald, September 2015.
  13. "UPDATE 1-Samsung firms cancel $2.5 billion Kazakhstan power plant project", Reuters, September 1, 2016.

Related articles

External resources

Samsung media releases

External articles