Thar Block-I power station

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Thar Block-I power station, also known as the Thar SSRL power station, is a proposed 1,320-megawatt (MW) coal plant in Sindh province, Pakistan.

Location

The undated satellite photo below shows the power station in Islamkot, Tharparkar district.

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Background

In March 2015, it was reported that mining of the Thar coalfield would begin in May. Sino Sindh Resources Limited (SSRL) is the holder of mining lease rights in Thar Block-I, spread over 150 square kilometers. In the first phase, 6.5 million tons of coal would be produced per year, supporting a 1,400 MW (4 x 350 MW) coal plant, the first two units of which would begin generating power in 2018.[1][2]

As part of the deal, SSRL and Shanghai Electric Corporation entered into a coal supply agreement in which SSRL would extract coal and supply it to China Power International (CPI). Eventually, the mine was expected to reach 20 million tons per year, which would be used for additional power plants as well as for export. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) would provide US$1 billion for the mining operations. Financing for the power plant was not discussed.[1]

In June 2015, the Private Power and Infrastructure Board approved the power station, but the sponsors still needed to apply for a generation license. The power station was planned to start generation in 2017-18. Shanghai Electric was set to be project partner of SSRL. Thar SSRL power station was among the projects included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.[3]

In May 2016, Shanghai Electric applied to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for a generation license for a 2 x 660 MW mine-mount coal plant in Thar Block-I.[4] According to the Pakistan Private Power and Infrastructure Board in November 2016, the license was granted and financial closure was being sought. It was planned for 2020.[5]

In January 2017, Shanghai Electric was given a generation license for the project.[6]

A December 17, 2018 updated list of "Upcoming IPPs" by the Ministry of Water & Power stated the plant would be commissioned in 2022-2023, with financial close "in progress".[7]

In October 2019, Shanghai Electric began mining work on the Thar Coal Block-I mine and plant. An estimated 600 families were expected to be displaced due to the coal mining and installation of the power plant.[8] In December 2019, an implementation agreement was signed between Shanghai Electric Group Company and the government of Pakistan for the 1,320 MW coal plant.[9]

In March 2020, the coal plant and mine project reached financial close.[10][11]

A December 4, 2020 updated list of "Upcoming IPPs" by the Ministry of Water & Power stated the plant would have a unit commissioned by March 2022 and one unit by May 2022.[12]

In February 2021, almost 40% of work related to coal mining was allegedly completed and construction work was also in progress on the power station. Block I mining work was expected to be completed by the end of 2021, and the first unit of the Block I power station would start working in 2022. The entire project was expected to be completed by 2023.[13]

In June 2021, more than 5,000 employees associated with the Thar Block I project were being vaccinated according to a top official of Shanghai Electric.[14]

Ownership

SSRL is owned 55% by Global Mining China (GMC) and 40% by Asiapak Investments, with the remaining 5% owned by a Dubai-based company. SSRL will mine the coal for the power station,[1] while the power station will be set up by Shanghai Electric Group Company of China.[3]

Financing

On March 6, 2020, financial closure was reached for the first (660MW) and second (660MW) phases of the Thar SSRL mine-mouth coal-fired power plant. The financing has a 75:25 debt to equity ratio. Loans of US$239 million are being provided by both China Ex-Im Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), with a further US$239 million coming from undisclosed sources (thought to be Chinese). SEPCO is providing US$239 million in equity. ICBC also reportedly agreed to provide a US$1 billion loan for the adjoining mining operations set to supply the coal plant; mining work was reported to have begun in October 2019.[15]

Opposition

The Thar Block-I power station, like other Thar coal projects, has been met with opposition.[16] In December 2019, a delegation from the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), along with other human rights activists, released a report on the situation in the Tharparkar district in Pakistan.[17]

For example, in July 2017, the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency held a consultation with local people of Tharparkar to discuss concerns over coal expansion in the district. Locals expressed resistance to the power plants, citing how they were promised jobs and land, but had not received either to a great extent. Since many projects in the region are part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there are concerns that the development project is more to the benefit of the Chinese population, rather than the Pakistan population.[18]

In addition, on December 22, 2019, hundreds of people from the Thar region marched from the Mazar-e-Quaid to the Karachi Press Club locations in Pakistan. The march was led by community leaders Lala Bheel, Lajpat Bheel, Hemraj Bheel, and Dilpat Singh from the Bheel Intellectual Forum. The main concerns of the protestors were over the government’s failure to address the drought issues in Tharparkar, as a result of the Thar Coal projects. They urged the government to address the matter and pay due compensation.[19]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Shanghai Electric Group Company
  • Parent company:
  • Location: Islamkot, Tharparkar district, Sindh province, Pakistan
  • Coordinates: 24.7108029, 70.3024933 (exact)
  • Status: Construction
  • Capacity: 1320 MW (2 x 660 MW)
  • Type: Subcritical
  • Projected in service: Unit 1: Mar. 2022, Unit 2: May 2022
  • Coal Type:
  • Coal Source: Thar Block-I
  • Source of financing: US$1,434 million in debt from ICBC, China Exim Bank, China Development Bank, and Habib Bank; US$478 million in equity from Shanghai Electric[20]

Website

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Work on $13 billion Thar coal project to begin in May," The International News, March 21, 2015
  2. "Shanghai Electric inks deal on coal-power integrated project in Pakistan," Xinhua Finance, April 23, 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Chinese company to set up 1,400MW coal power project," Daily Times, June 17, 2015
  4. "Shanghai Group seeks permit to make electricity from Thar coal," The International News, May 18, 2016
  5. "Upcoming IPPs," Pakistan Private Power and Infrastructure Board, accessed November 2016
  6. "Shanghai Electric secures generation licence," The International News, January 7, 2017
  7. "Upcoming IPPs," Private Power & Infrastructure Board, Ministry of Power, updated December 17, 2018
  8. "Mining work begins in Thar Coal Block-I," The Express Tribune, October 9, 2019
  9. "Pakistan signs IA with Chinese company for 1320MW coal-based project," The Nation, December 17, 2019
  10. "Shanghai Electric achieves financial close for coal mine," World Coal, March 17, 2020
  11. "Financial close achieved for 1,980MW Sindh power plants," DAWN, January 2, 2020
  12. "Upcoming IPPs," Private Power & Infrastructure Board, Ministry of Power, updated December 4, 2020
  13. "CPEC’s Thar Coal Block-1 project progressing quickly, says top official," The International News, February 9, 2021
  14. "Shanghai Electric begins major vaccination drive in Thar Block-1," Daily Times, June 15, 2021
  15. "FC on Pakistan's largest Thar coal-fired," IJGlobal, March 6, 2020
  16. "Locals urge Pakistani government to drop CPEC coal mining plans," The Third Pole, July 15, 2020
  17. “Thar Coal Project and Local Commuity”, National Commission for Human Rights, December 2019
  18. “For Pakistan, China’s huge energy investments may have serious political costs,” Wion News, July 24, 2017
  19. “Thari people come to Karachi to protest government’s ‘apathy’,” The International News, December 23, 2019
  20. "Preview of Thar Block-I Coal-Fired Power Plant (1.32GW) IPP," IJGlobal, accessed November 19, 2020

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