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Bangla stake in power project

Agartala, Dec. 31: The Centre has agreed to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) proposal to offer 10 per cent equity stake to Bangladesh in ONGC Tripura Power Company and supply 250MW electricity to the energy-deficient neighbour country, according to official sources of ONGC.

The move is expected to strengthen the Sheikh Hasina government ahead of the general elections in Bangladesh next month. The Bangladesh government had provided “invaluable help” to the Palatana power project by allowing transportation of huge turbines and heavy equipment of the project across the border.

During her two-day visit to Tripura in January 2012, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had raised the issue evincing keen interest in the power to be generated in the project for her power-deficient country. The Tripura government, which has an equity stake in the Palatana power project, had earlier agreed to sell power to Bangladesh from its share of surplus.

Apart from this, the commercial operation of ONGC Tripura Palatana Power Company is likely to start in the second week of January. The power production from the first unit of Palatana project has already reached above 300MW through gas and steam turbines.

Official sources of ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) put in charge of the project could not specify the date for commencement of the “commercial operation” for the first unit of Palatana project. Earlier, at the time of inauguration by President Pranab Mukherjee on June 21, the first unit of Palatana with an installed capacity of 363.3MW had been able to generate only 81MW because of technical snags, which has now been resolved.

Earlier on Sunday, the production of the first unit reached 315M, the highest ever. The power company’s managing director, S.K. Dubey, said during the past week, the power company produced 315MW power form the first unit of Palatana project daily. He added that the power generated had been supplied to Northeast Power Grid.

Official sources in the power company said the 726.6MW project is currently producing just 315MW from its operational first unit because the company has been unable to lay transmission lines between the Palatana plant and Bongaigaon to connect to the national grid for want of green clearance.

The second phase of the project, which was expected to be commissioned by July this year has, therefore, been delayed until March 2014. The ONGC Tripura Power Company, a joint venture company of the ONGC, IL&FS energy development company limited and the government of Tripura, is setting up a 726.6MW capacity combined cycle gas turbine-based mega power project in Tripura at the cost of Rs 10,000 crore, including transmission lines.

Another major objective of this project was the monetisation of gas, which had been lying idle for want of adequate market in the region.

ONGC, IL&FS and the government of Tripura are the major stakeholders in the ONGC Tripura Power Company. The ONGC owns 50 per cent shares in the consortium while IL&FS and the state government hold 26 per cent and 0.5 per cent stakes, respectively. The ONGC has the remaining 23 per cent equity, which is still not tied up and the ONGC has no objection if a minority stake is offered to a company nominated by Bangladesh on commercial consideration, official sources added.