Rampal power price almost doubles
The cost of power generation at the 1,320MW Rampal Power Plant is now estimated to be Tk 14-15 per unit, instead of Tk 7-8 per unit estimated when the project was taken up.
"The recent hike in coal prices in the global market has pushed up the generation cost. If the coal prices decline, the generation cost will come down rationally," said Subhash Chandra Pandey, the project director of the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd (BIFPCL).
The BIFPCL, a joint venture of Indian state-owned NTPC and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), is the owner and operator of the Rampal power plant.
BPDB officials said escalated dollar prices also played a major role in increasing power generation costs at all power plants.
"The coal price was almost half [of the current price] when the power generation cost of Rampal was calculated at the time of implementation agreement," said a BPDB official.
This seems to be a common problem for BPDB, which doesn't seem to recognise the inherent volatility of international energy markets when making big decisions or entering into agreements.
"Also, the dollar exchange rate is about Tk 106 now, up from Tk 84 at the time of the implementation agreement," an official said, preferring anonymity.
Recently, local conglomerate Bashundhara won a contract to supply 8 million tonnes of coal at $232.33 per tonne under the index of ICI-2 to reach the product up to the jetty of the power plant, a source at the BIFPCL revealed.
The Unit-1 of the Rampal coal-fired plant resumed production from Wednesday after a month-long shutdown caused by coal shortage.
The plant is still under a test run that started in August.
Though the plant has resumed its partial production, officials still worry about its uninterrupted operation due to the dollar crisis that may again disrupt the import of coal.
During a briefing session on Thursday, Subhash Chandra Pandey, the project director of the BIFPCL for the Rampal plant, said there is no substitute to coal import if the plant is to be kept operational.
"The coal used in the plant is of high standard and not available in the subcontinent," he told reporters who visited the plant.
According to official sources, Unit-1, having 660 MW capacity was forced to shut down on January 14.
The authorities of the power plant were unable to open any letter of credit (LC) to import coal due to the dollar crisis.
After a lot of persuasion at the government's policy level, LC opening was allowed for importing coal and the supplier sent a consignment of 30,000 tonnes.
BIFPCL officials said the supply of foreign exchange required for import of coal for the plant is not under their control.
The official said another consignment of 50,000 tonnes of coal is also coming to the country soon.
With the current stock of coal, the plant can run until April this year, said the project director, adding that the unit-1 needs about 4,500 coal per day to keep it operational with full capacity.
"Unit -2 is expected to come into operation in June this year, and at that time it will require about 9,000 tonnes of coal per day," the official of the project said.
He said though the unit-1 is now under test run as the BPDB which has a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the BIFPCL has not given the go-ahead yet for start of the commercial operation of the plant.