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14 August, 2018 12:38:32 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 August, 2018 12:08:36 PM

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Coal import ‘almost certain’

Power Division team back from S’pore after talks with exporters
SHAHED SIDDIQUE
Coal import ‘almost certain’

The government is serious about importing coal to fuel the Barapukria thermal power plant, which was shutdown last month due to shortage of coal. It is going to decide, by next week, whether importing coal will be possible or not.

A high-powered committee, headed by an additional secretary, returned from Singapore on Saturday, on a positive note after a series of meeting with 13 international coal-exporting companies based in Indonesia, Australia and South Africa. “We're serious about importing coal. Our initial feedback says that within a month coal import would be possible from the international market, but the main challenge is to transport the coal from Mongla to Barapukuria. We have asked the exporters to find a solution for local transportation,” said a member of the committee, which was formed last month by the Prime minister’s Office (PMO) to meet the coal crisis. The five members of the committee went to Singapore to discuss coal imports last Wednesday.

 

On July 17, 2018, some Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) officials found that about 1.44 lakh tones of coal had disappeared from the yards of Barapukuria coal mine. After the incident, the power station was shut down due to coal shortage.

In accordance with the USA Ranking System (ASTM method) the coal from Barapukuria is graded as highly volatile bituminous coal. So, the machineries in the Barapukria Thermal Power Plant are tuned with coal of such high grade.

“The first option to import coal was from India, but they don’t have such quality of coal available for export at this moment. Indonesia and Australia are the target sourcing locations,” a member of the committee told The Independent.

“We met 13 coal trading companies at the High Commission office in Singapore and the responses were positive. But some

exporters are not interested in carrying the coal up to Barapukuria which we wanted,” he said.

“The interested parties have been requested to submit a price quotation that includes the carrying cost of coal up to Barapukuria. After getting the quotation, we will decide about it,” he added.

The committee will suggest importing around two lakh tonnes of coal for the Barapukuria power plant.

The plant has three units with a capacity of around 500MW. It consumes 5,200 tonnes of coal per day. But, after the devepoment of a new face of the mine will be able to supply only 3,000 tonnes. So, the rest of the required coal will have to be imported from the international market.

The Barapukuria power plant buys coal from Barapukuria mine at a price of USD 130 per tonne.

Sources said the price of imported coal would not be higher than that sourced locally, after considering the carrying cost from Mongla port to Barapukuria. The government never imports coal from international markets. But the private sector annually imports 60 lakh tonnes of coal to feed the brick fields.

“If the private sector can arrange to transfer such a large amount of coal from the sea port, why can’t we? I hope we can transport the coal to the plant and, hopefully, the government will import coal from the international market,” said a member of the committee. However, experts said that restarting the Barapukria thermal power plant with imported coal may not be feasible, as it would pose problems on both technical and financial fronts.

Talking with The Independent, some government officials also admitted that importing coal for the Barapukria power plant may not be feasible. The government, acting on instructions from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has started looking at the coal import option as the ‘mysterious disappearance’ of a large amount of coal has forced the power plant to shut down operations.

MK

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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