Bangladesh market for Tripura power project

Vol 4, PW 16 (13 Sep 00) Midstream & Downstream

If all goes well, the north eastern Indian state of Tripura could begin exporting up to 300-MW of electricity to neighbouring Bangladesh by 2002.

The power will come from a proposed 500-MW Greenfield plant at Shanti Nagar in West Tripura district, promoted by India's North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO). Sunil Baran Dey, technical director at NEEPCO, tells Petrowatch thegas thermal plant, the biggest power project ever seen in Tripura, will be commissioned by 2002.

"Bangladesh is starved of power," said Dey, "We see a market there for at least 300-MW of power." Tripura's present demand for electricity falls below 125-MW, said Dey. He added that over the next five years, demand in the state is unlikely to exceed 250-MW.

Present generation capacity is 85-MW. Dey sees no risk of a domestic power shortfall in Tripura if 300-MW from the Shanti Nagar plant goes to Bangladesh.

"In Tripura, we have our own gas reserves," adds Dey, "Our proximity to the industrial centres of Bangladesh means we will spend much less on transmission." But what happens when Bangladesh sets up its own gas-based power projects Any excess power from Tripura, argues Dey, can be fed into the north eastern power grid for purchase by power-starved neighbours like Mizoram, which has neither gas reserves nor power plants. At one stage, West Bengal also planned to export electricity to Bangladesh from its proposed gas thermal plant in Sagardighi.

But the future of this plant hinges on Bangladesh allowing gas exports to India.