ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan and India are going to start two-day technical talks on Wednesday (today) in New Delhi on the import of 500MW of electricity from India, as a four-member delegation of Pakistan’s Power and Water Ministry has departed to India to finalise nitty-gritty of the deal.

Official sources at water & power told The Nation on the condition of anonymity that the two-day technical talks between Pakistan and Indian officials were set to begin in New Delhi on March 5. Pakistan’s four-member delegation comprising expert of Ministry of Power and Water has departed to New Delhi in a bid to discuss issues related to power trade between both bordering countries. This expert team would hold technical talks with their counterparts in India. They also said that Pakistani delegation is comprised of Additional Secretary of Ministry of Water and Power Sohail Akber Shah, Joint Secretary (Power) Zargham Khan, General Manager in Planning Division of NTDC (National Transmission Dispatch Company) Rehan Shafiq and Deputy Director NTDC Mohammad Wasim. Additional Secretary of Ministry of Water and Power Sohail Akber Shah would lead the delegation, they added.

“After finalising the nitty-gritty of proposed 500mw power import from India, power ministry would seek final approval from the federal cabinet”, a senior official at power ministry said on the condition not to be named.

Energy experts when contacted, they said that viewing current enormous power shortfall being faced by India, it has become necessary to get government guarantee from Indian side for sustained and smooth supply of power to Pakistan. They also feared that India might not ready to export demanded (500mw) electricity to Pakistan due to widening gap between supply and demand of power.

It is also learnt that Grid Corporation of India Limited would construct the interconnection falling in Indian side while National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) would construct the part of interconnection falling in Pakistan’s territory. Similarly, both countries would finance the cost of infrastructure to be established in their respective territories.

At present, Pakistan was facing severe energy shortages and had sought as much as 500MW of electricity from India through laying a transmission line from Punjab into Lahore.

The incumbent Nawaz Sharif government is very keen on entering into an agreement with India to supply of 500MW of power in the first phase and expand the relationship later on.

Pakistan, which already purchases electricity from Iran, had sought to purchase power to alleviate some of the acute energy crisis it is currently facing and has sought the supply of 500 megawatt of power from its Eastern neighbour.

It is to be noted here that in August, Indian and Pakistani experts had agreed to conduct feasibility studies and identify points for the proposed import of electricity. Later on, the World Bank (WB) funded pre-feasibility and also worked out the delivered cost of electricity to be imported from India at 10-11 US cents per unit. However, the feasibility study would be done after the experts of both the government would finalise the issues relating to the system compatibility issues and the points of transmitting the electricity from India and receiving the electricity in Pakistan.

Reportedly, one interconnection would be established in the suburbs of Wagha/Attari border and the interconnection would be on 400 kV DC or 500 kV DC depending on the joint determination of experts of NTDC and Grid Corporation of India Limited. The interconnection would run on 22 kV AC in the beginning phase but would convert to DC on commissioning of back-to-back converter station.

The recommendations amongst others made in the pre-feasibility study funded by the WB are as under: (i) a detailed feasibility study of the interconnection options should be conducted to establish tradable electricity volumes between the two countries based on configuration and design of the interconnection arrangements and on a detailed analysis of power systems in India and Pakistan; (ii) based on the interconnection point, infrastructure cost estimates and power flows, a detailed economic and financial analysis should be carried out to establish a tariff regime and a sensitivity analysis for full cost recovery (iii) a final ranking exercise of available options should be completed; (iv) Pakistan and India must hold open discussions on trade arrangements, import/export tariffs, and the resolution of technical, regulatory and national policy issues. The consultants recommend that the power purchase price be decided by market dynamics; (v) private sector involvement should be promoted in the development of interconnection and electricity trading facilitated; (vi) instead of sourcing power under a fixed volume contract, sourcing variable power according to the supply availability of the demand load profile can reduce costs significantly; and (vii) minimum standards will need to be established on balancing and settlement process, payment security mechanisms and grid codes as energy trade expands.