CASA-1,000 delayed as French firm seeks more time

Project is now likely to be completed in 2020, two years later than the earlier target

Zafar Bhutta January 28, 2017
Project stakeholders have also framed third-party access rules that allow a country, which is not part of the scheme, to export electricity. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The award of contract for the supply of converter stations under the Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) 1,000-megawatt power import project has been put off again following a request from French company Alstom to extend the bid-filing deadline to April this year.

“Four countries that are part of the project - Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan - have agreed to give relaxation in the time frame keeping in view the request of Alstom, which is a credible name and a major supplier of converter stations across the world,” an official said.

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Several interested companies including General Electric of the US, Siemens of Germany and Japan’s Mitsubishi had responded to the invitation for bids. However, Alstom sought more time.

Two converter stations are planned to be set up - one each in Tajikistan and Pakistan - for transmitting electricity under the Casa-1,000 project that will link Central and South Asia through an energy corridor.

The Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market is envisaged to be developed in a phased manner through institutional arrangements and infrastructure building that will utilise Central Asia’s power resources to tackle shortages in South Asia.

Earlier, bids were invited one year ago, but these were cancelled later in the face of high prices quoted for setting up the converter stations, which would convert direct current into alternative current or the reverse. “A fresh process for awarding the contract is going on,” the official said.

In another tender, the project stakeholders have sought bids for laying transmission lines in their territories.

“Converter stations are very important, but the building of transmission lines is not a hectic task; even Pakistani companies can lay the transmission lines,” the official said.

Earlier, the Casa-1,000 project was expected to be completed by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018. However, the target will be missed due to the delay in the award of tender for the setting up of converter stations. “Now, this project is likely to be ready in 2020,” the official said.

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Project stakeholders have also framed third-party access rules that allow a country, which is not part of the scheme, to export electricity.

Pakistan is also interested in importing thermal electricity as Tajikistan will be providing hydroelectric power for only five months in a year. There will be no supply of hydel electricity from the Central Asian states in winter.

The regulator - National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) - has approved a tariff of 9.41 cents per unit for electricity import from Central Asia.

This includes energy charges at 5.15 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), transmission charges at 2.91 cents per kWh, transit fee for Afghanistan at 1.25 cents per kWh and wheeling charges for Tajikistan at 0.10 cent per kWh.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2017.

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