Pre-feasibility report: Islamabad asks WB to weigh up power import from India

Published: June 11, 2012

Headway largely depends on political willingness.

ISLAMABAD: 

The World Bank has begun preparing a pre-feasibility report to assess the viability of Pakistan importing power from India under the Pakistan Regional Trade Programme, a senior water ministry official told The Express Tribune.

The World Bank’s initiative comes in light of the request made by Pakistan to provide technical assistance to conduct a pre-feasibility study regarding the import of power and exploring interconnection options between the power systems of both nations.

The study will help Pakistan in identifying issues and important risks of the proposed interconnection and electricity trade. It will be evaluated by a committee of experts from the National Transmission Dispatch Company and the Ministry of Water and Power. The official said negotiations among various stakeholders regarding the possibility of interconnecting power grids are ongoing.

Pakistan had decided in April that it would import up to 500 megawatts of electricity from India with the World Bank agreeing to fund construction of the required infrastructure. “We will import 500MW from India initially. Import can be increased up to 5,000MW if our need so demands,” said the ministry official.

No transmission link currently exists between India and Pakistan. It was decided earlier that the countries will build a 45-kilometre, 220 kilovolt transmission line within six months of signing a formal agreement. The agreement will be valid for five years, after which it can be extended for another five years.

Indian media reported last year that there is general agreement between officials involved in negotiations regarding cross-border trade through high voltage direct current coupling. India is also exporting power to Bangladesh and reports said it was ready to take steps to ensure that both grids operate independently.

However, technical feasibility is not the only problem. The trade is largely dependent on political willingness. Indian newspaper The Hindu quoted an Indian government official as saying: “While India is also facing a domestic power crunch, the move to offer electricity to Pakistan is being seen as part of a broader strategic initiative.”

According to the Indian daily, it was India that wanted to import power from Pakistan more than a decade ago. In 1998-99, India considered a proposal for power imports, but talks were bogged down over issues relating to power tariff and no headway was made.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Omer
    Jun 11, 2012 - 9:24AM

    Here is the problem. You have spare capacity to generate electricity. Capacity actually outstrips demand. GOP’s (Government of Pakistan) problem is that it doesn’t have money to buy fuel, if it can’t buy fuel, how can it buy more expensive value added from India? A sure way of increasing debt, that too to India!
    I think someone in Pakistani government and the World Bank (if it comes up with a favourable report) would have been paid off.

    Omer
    Economist

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  • Satan
    Jun 11, 2012 - 9:38AM

    Electricity before elections?

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  • asim
    Jun 11, 2012 - 10:14AM

    Is it difficult to build dams?

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  • BlackJack
    Jun 11, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Even in this case, tariff will be the clincher. India can be a power surplus country but increasing power tariffs is considered dangerous territory for most govts and political parties; add to this theft of power, distribution losses and populist schemes during election times for farmers, and you have the current situation of load shedding that varies between 0.5-8 hrs depending on the region and season. Pakistan is in a different boat – it does not have the power generating capacity to service the required demand; this can be serviced by India (similar to the Bangladesh arrangement), and will also serve as an ice-breaker for further cooperation in such sensitive domains.

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  • Aditya Randhawa
    Jun 11, 2012 - 10:42AM

    @asim:
    very difficult indeed.Big dams take 25 to 40 years of time to build them

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  • DD
    Jun 11, 2012 - 10:57AM

    @Omer the Economist

    Pakistan makes majority about 90% of its electricity from OIL India makes 70% from coal which is much cheaper than using furnace oil. It would have been better for you guys if you had installed capacity of Coal based plants rather than Oil based.

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  • Ajamal
    Jun 11, 2012 - 11:07AM

    We complain about India taking our share of water. Now we will buy electricity made from same water and pay for it dearly.
    Agree that on the one hand, we can’t run our power plants due to fuel shortage and on the other, will import electricity from India – instead of running our plants.

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  • John B
    Jun 11, 2012 - 11:09AM

    @Omer:
    In theory what you are saying is correct. Except, fuel import requires hard currency foreign exchange reserve, whereas electricity import with India is likely to be commodity exchange without burning the bank.

    India can scale up whereas PAK is constrained. Besides, it is better this way than electrified fence.

    Weighed it and it is all good. Import and prosper.

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  • atif
    Jun 11, 2012 - 11:14AM

    If we can import Electricity from India,Why not from China ? If,China can assist in almost every sector in Pakistan,why electrical import feasibility was rejected?

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Jun 11, 2012 - 11:18AM

    Just ask your true,real and time tested friends China and Iran to over come energy crisis.You will have a lot of cheap electricity in Pakistan.

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  • Ashraf P
    Jun 11, 2012 - 11:49AM

    @asim: Not only difficult but it takes over a decade to build dams. Besides, you need water.

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  • AMK
    Jun 11, 2012 - 12:10PM

    @Aditya Randhawa
    not at all..small dam take 4,5 years and big dams take 8-10 years..like as basha dam which is very big dam (4500MW) even its completion date is 2020-2021..
    the electricity problem can be solve but it requires will and sincerity from the authorities

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  • vigilant
    Jun 11, 2012 - 1:08PM

    This is insane proposal……..instead of developing local abundant resources they are importing electricity from India why??…….Government is not building dams resulting troubles with Indus water basin treaty……why always import???…..who will pay for that???….

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  • mohsin
    Jun 11, 2012 - 4:04PM

    looks like government of pakistan is more comfortable doing business with india than any other country in the world,why?

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  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Jun 11, 2012 - 4:17PM

    Anybody but India lobby is asking good questions. The cost of electricity can be offset by the transit fee from TAPI. Pakistan should allow India road access to Afghanistan in exchange for Pakistan’s access to Bangladesh, Mayanmar, Nepal and Thailand via road through India. How about a train from Dacca to Theran and Kabul?

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  • S Kumar
    Jun 11, 2012 - 4:42PM

    This is very good proposal. It will also help in improving relationship with two brother countries.

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  • Altaf Hussai, Mumbai.
    Jun 11, 2012 - 7:25PM

    Since World Bank will prepare a pe-feasibility report on Pakistani import of Indian power, all questions raised above is likely to be answered, particularly the ones related to payment issues. As we understand from the local buzz, a move is afoot to barter Pakistani cotton and wheat for Indian power. Let us wait for the WB report to become public. Overall, this is likely to be a game changer. Well done, both His Excellency Mr. Anand Sharma and his counterpart in Pakistan.

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  • Shahid
    Jun 11, 2012 - 7:34PM

    Export coal to India in exchange for electricity.

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  • Ali tanoli
    Jun 11, 2012 - 7:43PM

    what a irony. thanks to our elites.

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  • Yash
    Jun 11, 2012 - 10:25PM

    @Shahid:

    now thats what i call a game changing idea…

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Jun 11, 2012 - 11:08PM

    It’s a good idea to import electricity from India, provided we get it at a good price. Ten years ago, Pakistan offered to sell India electricity, but India said it would pay only 1.50 cents per kwh (although Pakistan was buying it from Hubco for 6.50 cents per kwh). Electricity from coal costs very little (about INR 1.00 per kwh). India should therefore sell it to Pakistan for not more than 3.00 cents per kwh.

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  • LionOfPunjab
    Jun 12, 2012 - 1:45AM

    First we should consult the mullahs and ghairat brigade to find out if the hindian electricity is halal!

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  • LionOfPunjab
    Jun 12, 2012 - 1:51AM

    @Omer, the ‘Economist’
    “… GOP’s (Government of Pakistan) problem is that it doesn’t have money to buy fuel, if it can’t buy fuel, how can it buy more expensive value added from India? A sure way of increasing debt, that too to India!….”
    Omer
    Economist

    Here is a plausible solution. If the the imported electricity is sold by the neighboring government, We use barter to trade with electricity, we exchange coal, iron and other government owned non-liquid assets as payment.

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