MUZAFFARGARH-The government has decided to establish 1,200MW power plant to be fuelled by regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) in Muzaffargarh.

Approved by the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB), the project is part of the government’s plan to eliminate loadshedding till 2018.

During its 108th meeting held here the other day, the decision was taken in the light of the advice of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) made in its meeting on September 15, 2016, wherein Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted ban on the regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG)-fired power plants. The federal government is already setting up two RLNG-fired power plants in Punjab near the load centres whereas one similar one is being established by the Punjab government.

Sources said the prime minister had directed the Ministry of Water and Power to initiate the process of advertisement through PPIB for inviting prospective investors for installation of 1,200MW RLNG-fired power plants on IPP mode.

It can give assurance for single cycle operations of power plant by March 2018. It will be able to bring Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) as partners or with given commitment to provide turbines. It will be willing to start installation without financial close. It will be able to provide a performance guarantee for meeting timelines other than quality and standards.

According to the sources, the PPIB in August 2016 had decided to put a ban on imported fuel projects but those interested in such projects were angered particularly the Punjab government. The Ministry argued that the policy was not feasible for the country in the long run, sources added. However, PPIB top brass was looking for room to “accommodate” imported fuel projects and for the purpose the issue was again raised in 106th board meeting held recently in the Ministry of Water and Power.

On September 15, 2016, the prime minister had directed the Ministry of Water and Power to review the generation requirement rate due to increase in electricity demand on account of industrial growth and economic activities. Former minister for water and power Khawaja Asif said on Friday that the current government believes in the policy of facilitating investors, and does not want them to face any hurdles or delays during the processing of their projects.

He further added that in order to make electricity affordable, various short to medium and medium to long term power generation projects based on coal, hydro, RLNG, solar & wind are being established all across the country in private and public sectors.

PPIB Managing Director Shah Jahan Mirza gave a briefing to the Board on the 1,200 MW RLNG-based power project . He stated that the project will be located at Muzaffargarh near the existing Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station of NPGCL having gas turbines based combined cycle technology. The power plant will have minimum annual availability of 92 percent. Open Cycle Operation is scheduled to start by February, 2018 whereas the full Combined Cycle Operation will start by end 2018.

This is a viable option to address the electricity demand and supply gap in early 2018 and ensuring elimination of loadshedding by that time. Furthermore, due to the highly efficient and state of the art technology of the plant, this will be able to replace old and retiring power plants in the public sector.

He said the RFP document for the project has been prepared and it will be advertised in the coming days, and bids will be invited through single stage, two envelope bidding approach.