Fire damages country’s biggest RLNG-based Haveli Power Plant

Another 1,200MW goes out of system in fourth rare incident in national electricity system in less than a month

A fire damaged Pakistan’s biggest RLNG-based power plant at Haveli Bahadur Shah, Jhang, the fourth such incident in the national electricity system in less than a month.

The incident has created a wave of shock among top management of the power sector and they are tight-lipped regarding the matter.

Over 1,200-megawatts went out of the energy basket with the blaze at the combined cycle power plant of Haveli Bahadur Shah following damages to Guddu Power Plant of 747-megawatt, Neelum Jehlum hydropower project of 969MW and K-Electric owned Bin Qasim-III of 450MW in the past four weeks, sources informed Minute Mirror.

At a time when the cash-strapped government seems helpless to meet the widening gap between electricity demand and supply, the energy basket was set to face over 2,900MW additional loss besides persisting shortfall of around 6,000MW, they added.

The Guddu Unit-II fire had caused around 250MW additional shortfall due to damage to one of its units among the three total.

Sources said it will take one to two years to bring back all four units into the system.

The fire, according to sources, broke at around 6:30pm on Tuesday at unit auxiliary transformer (UAT) of gas turbine-I (GT-I), causing tripping and damage to UAT of GT-II at 8:30pm, also damaging its automatic voltage regulator (AVR). The cause of the fire breaking out was yet to be known, but the management decided to shut the plant immediately, they said.

There is no direct loss to the national kitty as a Chinese firm is responsible for maintenance and operation of the power plant. Qatar supplies 200MMFCD re-gasified liquefied natural gas to it under the agreement signed between Doha and Islamabad in the previous PML-N tenure (2013-2018).

Similarly, the Chinese are responsible to fix the faults in Bin Qasim and Neelum Jehlum plants, they added.

A probe into the fire incident at Guddu Power Plant had held the staff responsible for Rs20 billion losses, amongst other alarming revelations. The assessment, which was written a week after the 747-megawatt Unit-II fire, cited major concerns about the plant’s lack of insurance coverage, which directly cost the state around Rs20 billion.

All the four power plants, where damages occurred due to fire or technical reasons, were installed by Chinese firms.

A top engineer of the power sector seeking anonymity raised questions on the efficiency of Chinese equipment. The incidents in sequence at a time when the government is considering to privatize the power sector are also a matter of serious consideration.

Iftikhar Alam is a correspondent writing on religion, politics, agriculture, and energy. He takes people on a rich journey through the culture of Punjab. He tweets @imiftikharalam and can be reached at iftikharalam@live.com.