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December 16, 2019

CASA-1000: Pakistan begins talks for electricity export to Central Asia

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December 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has initiated talks for export of electricity to Central Asian States such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by using open access clause which is already part of Master Agreement under CASA-1000 project.

According to a relevant senior official of Power Division, the experts of National Transmission Dispatch Company (NTDC) on behalf of Pakistan last week held crucial dialogue in Dubai with experts of Tajikistan on export of electricity.

Earlier, Pakistan formally asked Tajikistan to invoke the open access clause in the agreement under CASA-1000 project paving way for two-way trade of electricity, as under the existing deal, Pakistan is bound to import 1000MW electricity per day at 9.50 cents per unit in summer season from May to October once this project comes into stream. And more importantly, Pakistan will also not bear the electricity transit loss in Afghanistan in case of any subversive activity on Afghan territory.

Under new scenario, Pakistan is now surplus in electricity and wants to export it to the Kyrgyz republic, Tajikistan and Afghanistan in the winter season by using the same structure of CASA project.

Pakistan, the official said, by using the open clause, also aspires to export electricity to the countries which will provide to Pakistan electricity in summer season under CASA-1000.

The project will be completed with the cost of $1.17 billion and apart from transmission line, converter stations will be constructed each in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Pakistan, at Nowshera, the land is being acquired for setting up a converter station.

When asked if the decision to import electricity from Tajikistan was rationale knowing the fact the hydro generation in Pakistan has increased by over 9,000MW and many more hydropower projects are in the line to come on stream and in toto the installed capacity of Pakistan to generate electricity has increased to over 36,000MW showing Pakistan is in surplus with electricity, the official said that when Pakistan entered into agreement with Tajikistan and other countries under CASA project, the country was facing acute electricity crisis.

He said the Word Bank had drafted the agreement signed by all countries involved in this project. “We cannot abandon the project unilaterally as sovereign guarantees are involved and Pakistan cannot afford to face the penalty in dollars in case any aggrieved party moves the international arbitration.”

However, if Pakistan is not provided the electricity on time during the period from May to October, then Pakistan will penalise the electricity supplier countries.

Asked if Pakistan’s financial liability starts when Tajikistan provides electricity in our national grid at Peshawar, he said certainly.

The project would include a 750km high voltage direct current (DC) transmission system between Tajikistan and Pakistan via Afghanistan, together with associated converter stations at Sangtuda (1,300MW), Kabul (300MW) and Peshawar (1,300MW). A 477km 500KV alternating current facility would also run between the Kyrgyz Republic (Datka) and Tajikistan (Khoujand).

System upgrades would also be required to safely and reliably accommodate the AC and DC facilities and the associated power flows. The CASA-1000 transmission line to Peshawar would be capable of delivering 1,300MW -- 1,000MW to Pakistan and 300MW to Afghanistan. However, officials suggest that Afghanistan’s share may be available to Pakistan as Kabul may not need the power in the near future.