New Delhi: An Indian delegation headed by Union power secretary H.S. Brahma will visit Bangladesh on Thursday to hold discussions on a power plant that NTPC Ltd is planning to set up there, apart from other areas of energy cooperation.
The negotiations follow the January visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and is part of an effort to improve diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.
Bangladesh has resisted calls until now for the export of natural gas—of which it has substantial reserves of 135.8 billion cu. m—to its larger neighbour, which needs supplies of the fuel for its projects.
Energy synergy: Power secretary H.S. Brahma will visit Bangladesh on Thursday. Dinesh Kumar/Mint
The talks will also cover grid interconnectivity. While Bangladesh is short of power, with an installed capacity of 10,000MW, India has an installed capacity of 153,000MW, of which 16,822.85 MW is gas-based.
Bangladesh plans to set up two coal-fuelled power projects of 1,320MW each, of which one project requiring an investment of around Rs6,600 crore will be offered to the state-owned NTPC, India’s largest power generation utility, to be developed in a joint venture with the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).
NTPC is also scouting for renovation and modernization (R&M) and operation and maintenance (O&M) opportunities in Bangladesh, said R.S. Sharma, chairman and managing director of the Indian company.
“We are also planning to develop some power generation projects as joint ventures,” he said. A technical team from NTPC will be part of the delegation, he said. The power generated by the proposed plant will sent back to India through a link that will be set up by Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd (PGCIL), he said.
Mint had reported on 20 April about NTPC’s plans to bid for O&M contracts for the 300MW Siddhirganj gas-based power project, south-east of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka. The approximate investment required for the 250MW grid interconnection is Rs869.21 crore, of which Rs160.33 crore is needed for infrastructure on the Indian side, to be financed by the state-owned PGCIL.
“With the power sector playing a crucial enabling role in India’s growth, the achievement of sustainable synergies with neighbouring countries is undoubtfully a good strategy to fuel such growth,” said Monish Chatrath, executive director at consultancy firm Mazars India.
The nature, type and extent of cooperation that is taken up in Bangladesh should be practical and in keeping with the bottlenecks identified in the implementation of measures agreed on during the January meet, Chatrath said.
He said the cooperation should not only be broad based, but should also build further on the modalities (including the monitoring framework) for common minimum investments and specific roles in identified joint projects. “At the same time, the geographic reality of bordering countries or kingdoms like Bhutan and Nepal must be considered for possible future multilateral synergies as well,” he said.
India has been trying to secure gas supplies in its immediate neighbourhood and has been trying to engage countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh. The state-owned NHPC Ltd signed an agreement with India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) last month to fund hydrological studies needed to develop the 1,200MW Tamanti hydroelectric power plant and a 642MW project on the Chindwin river, the largest tributary of the Irrawaddy, Myanmar’s key commercial waterway. The country has gas reserves of 2.54 trillion cu. m, of which 510 billion cu. m can be easily extracted.
India has recoverable natural gas reserves of 119.55 billion cu. m and produced 32,847 million cu. m in 2008-09. Natural gas production from the prolific D6 block in the Krishna-Godavari basin has started and is expected to reach around 89 million standard cu. metres per day by March 2012.
India also wants to ensure closer cooperation so that Bangladesh acts against groups that have established bases on its soil, such as the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, Jamaat-ul-Mujahidin, Purbo Banglar Communist Party, Bipplobi Communist Party and the Sarbahara Party.