Matiari-Lahore transmission line’s contractual issues resolved

ISLAMABAD – Contractual issues of 660 kV HVDC Matiari-Lahore transmission line project has resolved amicably.

The project would be owned and operated by Pak MLTC for 25 years, and after that it would be transferred to National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC), said a press release issued here Wednesday.

660 kV  high-voltage, direct current  (HVDC) Matiari-Lahore transmission line is a project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has been envisioned to evacuate power from power plants in South of the country. It has a designed capacity of 4000 MW and is being built on build–own–operate–transfer (BOOT)  basis.

HVDC is a new technology in Pakistan and is being used widely around the world in long distance transmission.

The project agreements were signed between NTDC and Pak MLTC on May 14, 2018, and construction of the project was started in December 2018. Currently, the construction of the project is almost complete and the project is at advanced stages of testing and commissioning, and more than 95per cent testing and commissioning stands completed.

During the latter part of the testing and commissioning, while the project was energised on low power testing on December 2, 2020, severe frequency oscillations were experienced throughout the network and to avoid the network outages, HVDC system was blocked after around 14 minutes operation on lower power at 200 MW flow on Line.

Afterwards, NTDC revisited all the technical and contractual details pertaining to testing and commissioning and after a detailed analysis, the testing activities of the project were halted on December 11, 2020 and a notice of dispute was served by NTDC to the project company on various technical and contractual grounds.

A series of high-level discussions were started between NTDC and Pak MLTC to resolve the issues under the dispute resolution mechanism provided in the contract documents.

Detailed discussions between the parties to resolve the issues continued for around 2 months and each and every issue was deliberated upon during the said period.

It is also imperative to state that various forums and entities were actively involved in this whole process of negotiations, Ministry of Energy, PPIB, BoD NTDC, Foreign Office, Chairman CET China, and CPEC Authority played vital role during the proceedings of negotiations and provided amicable support to close the issues and reach common grounds to move forward.

Resultantly, the MoU was signed between NTDC and Pak MLTC on February 18, 2021, with new targeted commercial operation date  (COD)  of the project on September 1, 2021, along with outlining a road map for undertaking further testing and commissioning activities of the project.

As a result of MoU, low power testing of the project was resumed in the end of February, which continued in the month of March 2021.  Currently, low power testing of the project is complete up to   the level of 800 MW, for both Monopole and Bipole, and further trial run at low power will continue till April 30, 2021, and then high-power testing for 2200 MW and 4000 MW will be started which will be continued till August31, 2021. Pursuant to successful completion of high-power testing, the COD of the project shall be declared on September 1, 2021.

The agreements reached in the MoU by the management of both parties were translated into amendments in the contract documents and external counsels were engaged to draft addendum agreements to supplement the common grounds.

The summary for approval of addendum agreements was taken up at ECC on March 03, 2021. As per these addendum agreements, COD of the project shall be declared on September1, 2021, and NTDC will take over partial operation and maintenance of line, limited to patrolling.

It is pertinent to indicate that at the moment HVDC project is energised at low power and energy is being transferred through the line as test energy, as per agreed points in the MoU, and the project will continue to operate on trial run basis on low power till April30, this year, and thereby cheaper energy from southern power plants will be added in the national grid.

The successful and amicable resolution between Chinese company and NTDC speaks the volume of Pak-China long last friendship, which will further enhance the cooperation between both the counties.

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