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Bangladesh looks at power imports, investment from Indian players

Nevin John & P B Jayakumar  |  Mumbai 

Bangladesh may soon emerge as a major investment destination for Indian power sector players, as its government is planning nine power projects and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal worth $5 billion, with the help of expert private sector players around the world.

It is also planning to buy power from Indian producers.

Sources said officials from the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) visited India on December 16-17 to study both private and state-owned coal power projects. They also held discussions with government officials and some private sector players wo are setting up projects.

After the Tata Group abandoned its $3-billion investment plan in Bangladesh a year-and-a-half ago, this is a fresh round of opportunity for Indian players. Bangladesh is planning to add 3,200 Mw of generation capacity. It also plans an LNG terminal for gas imports, though the country is perceived to be rich in gas reserves, that are yet to fully quantified.

Proximity to India and the Indian government’s plans to add about 180,000 Mw by 2017 are encouraging Bangladesh to source power and woo private sector players to that country, said sources.

India, with a 13,000 Mw peak power shortage, currently does not export power; it imports from Bhutan.

Bangladesh faces peak power deficits of 1,800-Mw. It plans to import up to 1,200 Mw of electricity from Indian players by the middle of 2012, Alamgir Kabir, chairman of BPDB, said recently.

“There will be an umbrella agreement under which we will import electricity from India… A deal in this regard will be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India next month,” he had said.

Bangladesh produces an average 3,700 Mw of electricity every day, against the peak hour demand for over 5,500 Mw. Its electricity demand has been growing by 7.5 per cent annually since 1990.

Analysts said the move of the Bangladeshi government would present an opportunity for India's private sector players to go global.

Sources with the Indian which Business Standard spoke to said it was early to comment on whether they would foray into Bangladesh, as they have not assessed the opportunity in that country. Besides, all are currently focusing on the massive expansion plans happening in India, they said.

BPDB will float a Request For Proposal for installation of three gas-based power plants with a capacity of 1,125 Mw within two months. The plan is to install three power plants by 2014.

The three plants are 350-450 Mw capacity power plants at Bibiana-2 and Meghnaghat-2 and a 150 Mw power plant at Bhola. The government is also seeking investors for four coal-fired power plants of 500 Mw each in Meghnaghat, Zajira, Khulna and Chittagong.

Besides, two 100 Mw peaking power plants will come up in Kaliakoir and Savar, aimed at catering to industrial needs, especially the tannery sector. The government intends to use supercritical pressure technology for plants to ensure least greenhouse emission, while the financing will be done on the basis of private-public partnership.

Coal would be imported from Indonesia or Australia, unless Bangladesh's own coal fields can produce enough for these plants.

“The terminal should have the capacity to transmit 3.5 million tonne of LNG,” said Kabir about a week before. The terminal in the Bay of Bengal, preferably near the off-shore Sangu gas field system, might cost around $1 billion.

In a recent road show in London, the Bangladeshi delegation had got responses from 55 global power The Bangladesh delegation will also hold similar road shows on the same investment prospect in Singapore and New York on January 25-26 and 28-29, said sources.

First Published: Sat, December 26 2009. 01:08 IST