As the domestic demand for coal has started dwindling with surplus stock at power plants, Coal India has started exploring export opportunities, hoping to enter Bangladesh with the upcoming Maitree super-critical thermal project there. A team recently visited Bangladesh and is likely to table its report soon.
State-owned power generator NTPC is developing a 1,320-Mw thermal power project in Khulna, Bangladesh, in partnership with Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). A company, Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company, with a 50:50 ownership ratio has already been floated in this endeavour.
“Previously, Bangladesh had asked us to rationalise the prices of higher grades coal at par with international prices which could open up this corridor for us… It is one country we cannot ignore,” a senior Coal India official said. Recently, Coal India increased prices by 6.29 per cent, hoping to generate extra annual revenue of Rs 3,234 crore. “This price revision will also be applicable for exports,” the official added.
NTPC, together with BPDB, will select the lowest bidder. This puts Coal India in direct competition with Chinese and Indonesian coal suppliers. “Signing of Financial Services Authority will depend on the price quoted by lowest bidder and as such there will not be any preference for any particular company or country,” an NTPC official said. A 1,320-Mw plant would require six million tonnes of coal every year, with a buffer stock of three weeks.
Although Coal India is confident that the proximity with Bangladesh and the development of inland waterways will make its coal cheaper than the Indonesian variant, experts said its feasibility also depends on the grade of coal opted by the plant and the price volatility in the international market.