Banshkhali power station (S Alam)

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Bangladesh and coal
Sub-articles:
Related articles:

Banshkhali power station (S Alam), also known as the Chittagong or Chattogram power station, is a proposed 1,224-megawatt (MW) coal plant in Chittagong (Chattogram) division, Bangladesh.

(The plant is also referred to as the Banskhali S. Alam, SS Power, and Gondamara S. Alam power station.)

At least ten people have lost their lives in clashes related to the proposal, and at least 10,000 people have been affected by the losses of homesteads and farmland.[1][2]

The project is being built by SEPCOIII.[3]

Location

The map below shows the proposed location for the plant in Banshkhali upazila, in Chittagong district, Chittagong division. Additional imagery of the site is linked below.

Loading map...

Background

In December 2013, S. Alam Group of Bangladesh signed an agreement in Dhaka with China's SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corporation to build a 1,320 MW coal plant in Chittagong. The cost of the project was estimated at $1.8 billion. The Daily Star reported, "Officials said the new company would sign a separate agreement with state-run Power Development Board, which will mandate the joint venture to complete the construction work in 45 months."[3] It is not clear from the report whether the project would be a formal joint venture involving the Bangladesh Power Development Board, or whether the "joint venture" referred to the agreement signed between S Alam Group and SEPCOIII.

On February 16, 2016, the government of Bangladesh approved the deal and set a price to purchase electricity from the group at a rate of BDT 6.61 per unit. The project was reported to be 2 x 612 MW. The group started to acquire 600 acres of land for this plant. According to Bangladesh's The Daily Star: "Surprisingly, all these steps were taken without any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public consultation. There was no environmental clearance."[4] The Bangladesh Post reports the "Power Division approved the project in October 2013."[5]

Missing and inadequate EIA

In April 2016, S Alam group was asked to revise its environmental impact assessment report (EIA) for the project.[6]

In June 2021, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), and Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED) published a report titled "Assessment of the Banskhali S. Alam coal power (SS Power I) project EIA." The reported summarized that the EIA for unit 1 contained errors and omissions that would have been caught by the environmental regulator if appropriate oversight was in place.[7][8]

Project delays and fines

In March 2018, it was reported that "The work of this plant was supposed to be completed in 2019, but the construction work has not started yet." According to S Alam Group, site development has begun and financial close was expected soon.[5]

In November 2018, the Bangladesh Power Division warned S Alam Group of annulling the plant's contracts over the delay in financial close. The company was given until December 31, 2018 to complete financial closing of its thermal power plant project.[9]

In December 2018, PowerChina said prep work was underway on the project.[10]

The plant was listed in Bangladesh's 2016 Master Plan "Revisited", an updated version of the country's energy plan released in November 2018. It is proposed for commissioning in December 2020, although the timeline seems unlikely given the lack of progress through 2018.

Planet satellite photos through September 22, 2019 show construction was underway.

Photos from the plant site up to December 2019 show ongoing construction progress.

In July 2020, S. Alam Group was fined Tk 2 billion (approximately US$23.5 million) for failing to complete the Banshkhali power station on schedule. At the time, the company and its partners had only managed to complete about 25% of the project. The group has now got an extension to complete the project by 2022, insiders said.[11]

Planet imagery from 2019 to December 2021 and from January 2022 shows considerable progress at the site.

Projected operation

In June 2022, the plant was expected to go into production by the end of 2022 according to Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Li Jiming. He claimed that 95% of the project's construction was complete. Md Faizur Rahman, site project manager of the power plant, put the progress on the engineering side at 99.89%, procurement progress at 98.76%, and construction progress at 92.22%. The plant was expected to run on imported coal, most of which to be bought from Indonesia, or Australia as needed. A large jetty was built on the adjacent beach to unload coal.[12]

Public opposition

According to the Daily Star of Bangladesh, the project has been marred by a lack of transparency and irregularities since its inception. Authorities also avoided discussing the full scope of the project's impact: "The local administration had shown a total of only 150 households in the project area, but in reality the area has at least 7,000 households, 70 mosques, graveyards, a technical education institution, around 20 cyclone shelter houses, one high school, eight primary government schools, two Alia Madrassa, five Qawmi Madrassa, five markets, and one government hospital. Hiding the real numbers is a familiar practice to rationalize the project and also to ease the handover of khas (government) land to the private company."[4]

March 2016: Thousands protest plant

On March 23, 2016, 30,000 people gathered demanding the project be shifted elsewhere and their land be returned to them. On April 3, 2016, police arrested seven people from the village, accusing them of obstructing the company's work. In response, on April 4, 2016, locals gathered under the banner of “Boshot Bhita Rokkha Committee” (Committee to Protect Households).[4] Witnesses estimated the the crowd at around 15,000 protesters.[13]

April 2016: Four killed in plant protest

Four people were killed after police opened fire on the protesters. Witnesses said that 100 people were injured. According to local authorities, police claimed that the shootings occurred when protesters attacked them at the "banned" protest.[13] According to the Daily Star, members of a paramilitary group were allegedly paid by the company to break up the event and started firing on the unarmed protesters, with the police eventually joining in the shooting.[4]

The victims included a pair of brothers, according to district police chief Hafiz Akter. In addition to the fatalities, dozens of protests were reported injured, as well as 11 policemen, one of whom was shot in the head. According to Dr. Saiful Islam of Chittagong Medical College Hospital, seven people, including four who were shot by live rounds, were brought to his clinic. According to protest leader Abu Ahmed, "Police opened fire as we brought out a procession against the power plants. They even chased the villagers to their homes."[13]

February 2017: One killed, a dozen injured at Chittagong protest

One person was killed and "about a dozen" were injured at a protest on February 1, 2017 against the S Alam power Chittagong power station. According to Nurul Mostafa, a leader of a citizens group opposing the plant, protesters were chanting slogans when police attacked them.[14][15]

April 2021: Seven plant workers killed by police

Five workers at the under construction plant were killed by police on April 17, 2021. The workers had been protesting to receive their due wages from the power plant administration, with the situation escalating to clashes with police forces which also left at least 20 other people injured, including local residents.[16]

On April 21, 2021, it was reported that two workers had succumbed to gunshot wounds sustained in police firing during the April 17 clash with police officers, raising the death toll to seven.[17]

June 2022: explosion

In June 2022, two people were injured in an explosion at the site. Banshkhali Upazila Health Complex Residential Doctor Arman Chowdhury said "it was basically a chemical blast."[18]

Financing

Two Chinese firms – SEPCOIII Electric Power and HTG – are financing US$1.75 billion of the the plants' estimated $2.4 billion cost.[13] This is happening via a US$1.739 billion loan from the ExIm Bank of China.[19]

Cancellation risk

In August 2020, signalling a potential pivot in Bangladesh away from coal power towards increased reliance on gas-based power from imported liquified natural gas (LNG), Bangladesh’s minister of power, energy and mineral resources, Nasrul Hamid stated that the government is planning to review an array of planned coal plants with the exception of three which are in construction and nearing completion: the Rampal power station, the Matarbari power station and the Payra power station. According to Minister Hamid, "We are reviewing how we can move from coal-based power plants." Banshkhali power station is, therefore, likely to be reviewed by the government which may cause delays to the project or even cancellation.[20]

On November 19, 2020, The Daily Star reported that Bangladesh's power, energy and mineral resources ministry had finalized an energy plan that cancelled all coal plants except five under construction, including Units 1 and 2 of Banshkhali. The ministry was reported to be sending the plan to the Prime Minister's Office for review.[21]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: S. Alam Group (70%), SEPCOIII (20%), STG Development Group (10%)[22]
  • Parent company: S. Alam Group (70%), PowerChina (20%), STG Development Group (10%)
  • Location: Banshkhali upazila, in Chittagong district, Chittagong division
  • Coordinates: 21.970844, 91.888932 (exact)
  • Status: Construction
  • Gross Capacity: 1,224 MW (Units 1-2: 612 MW)
  • Type: Supercritical
  • Projected in service: 2022
  • Coal Type:
  • Coal Source: Indonesia[3]
  • Source of financing: SEPCOIII Electric Power and HTG: US$1.75 billion of $2.4 billion cost via a loan from ExIm Bank of China

Articles and resources

References

  1. "Banshkhali coal power plant a 'curse' for villagers," TBS News, April 21, 2021
  2. "Banshkhali 1320 MW (SSPL) Coal Power Plant," Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED), accessed December 2021
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "S Alam Group teams up with Chinese firm for coal power plant," The Daily Star, December 20, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Anu Muhammad, "Scrap projects of destruction," The Daily Star, April 11, 2016
  5. 5.0 5.1 "No progress in 19 power plants yet," The Bangladesh Post, March 9, 2018
  6. "Banshkhali coal-based plant fails to get environmental clearance," energynewsbd.com, May 7, 2016
  7. "Assessment of the Banskhali S. Alam coal power (SS Power I) project EIA," CREA, BELA, BWGED, June 2021
  8. "Banshkhali one of most polluting coal power plants: report," New Age Bd, June 16, 2021
  9. "Power Div warns of scrapping S Alam Gr's coal power plant," FE, November 25, 2018
  10. "POWERCHINA's Bangladesh power plant makes progress," PowerChina, December 17, 2018
  11. 1224MW power plant at Banskhali: S Alam Group pays Tk 2.0b as penalty for delay, Financial Express, July 13, 2020
  12. "Banshkhali power plant to begin production in December, says Chinese envoy," The Business Standard, June 2, 2022
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "Four killed at an anti-China power plant protest in Bangladesh," The Peninsula, April 5, 2016
  14. Serajul Quadir, "One killed in Bangladesh protest against Chinese-backed plant," Reuters, February 2, 2017
  15. "Banshkhali coal power station, Chittagong, Bangladesh," EJ Atlas, accessed May 2017
  16. "Five die in clash between police and power plant workers in Banshkhali," bdnews24.com, April 17, 2021
  17. "Death toll rises to 7 in Banshkhali power plant clash," The Business Standard, 21 April 2021
  18. "Two injured in Banshkhali coal power plant explosion," The Business Standard, June 25, 2022
  19. "Choked by Coal: The Carbon Catastrophe in Bangladesh," November 2019, Market Forces
  20. Tom Baxter, "Bangladesh may ditch 90% of its planned coal power," China Dialogue, August 27, 2020
  21. Roy, Pinaki (2020-11-19). "Future not coal power". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  22. "Deal on 1,224MW Banskhali coal power plant," Prothom Alo, February 16, 2016

Related GEM.wiki articles