Wednesday , 23 August 2017
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Mega power plants shut as demand drops massively

KARACHI: The Ministry of Water and Power has abruptly shut down at least four mega power plants, saying that demand for electricity has gone down massively by 7,000 megawatts compared to the peak in summer season.

“Power plants were closed after the gap between demand and production became very narrow,” said ministry spokesman Muhammad Ismail.

“We had hit the peak in power production at 17,000 megawatts in June and July {peak summer days} this year; the production level dropped to around 12,000 megawatts last week,” he said.

‘Power loom sector on verge of destruction’

In summer, the demand shoots up to around 22,000 megawatts whereas in winter it comes down to about 14,000 megawatts. The production, however, always remains short of demand with the shortfall sometimes reaching 6,000 megawatts for varying reasons.

The drop in demand is seasonal. “Now, we are entering winter days; people have switched off air conditioners that consume a significantly higher volume of electricity,” the spokesman said.

The power plants running on furnace oil and diesel including the Muzaffargarh, Jamshoro, Nandipur and Hubco units were shut down last week.

“Only those units that were operating on diesel were closed; the plants running on gas at the same stations continued to generate electricity; some of the plants were closed for annual overhauling,” the spokesman said.

It, however, remained unclear as to how much electricity the closed plants were supplying to the national grid.

“The plants that were chosen for shutdown were generating the most expensive electricity; they will be activated when the demand goes up,” he said.

These power units may not be a top priority of the government after new plants start running.

Some of the new plants will come online by May 2017 before the peak summer days. They will produce much cheaper electricity.

When asked about power outages, the spokesman said load-shedding had been slashed to mere three hours in urban areas and four hours in rural regions. However, it remains high at 18-20 hours in areas where power theft is rampant.

“Industrial zones and residential areas with zero power theft are provided electricity round the clock,” he said.

Furnace oil stocks

With the shutdown of power plants, the stocks of furnace oil have mounted in the country. “This may lead to imposition of demurrages on three cargoes awaiting berth at the Karachi seaport,” said a source.

Got extra power? LESCO will happily buy from you

Fuel cargoes are imported by state-owned Pakistan State Oil (PSO). “The recent oil demand projection of the Ministry of Water and Power for electricity production stood at 13,700 tons per day. On the contrary, it accepted only 1,800 tons of furnace oil on Saturday,” the source added.

When approached, PSO confirmed that power plants had stopped taking furnace oil supplies last week. “This is putting us in a difficult situation,” a company official said.

About a week ago, PSO was supplying 18,000 tons of furnace oil per day to the power plants, including those in the private sector.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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