ISLAMABAD: Russia is expected to utilise the six-month (October-April) idle capacity of the proposed Central Asia to Pakistan transmission line to sell its surplus electricity to Islamabad and set up a 600-megawatt gas-fired plant in Jamshoro.
The two sides have also agreed to convene a meeting of the joint energy working group in Moscow next month to sign a formal memorandum of understanding in this regard.
Visiting Russian Deputy Minister for Energy Yuri Sentyurin and Water and Power Secretary Mohammad Younus Dagha discussed the two issues in a meeting on Wednesday.
According to an official privy to the meeting, the visiting delegation was informed that the transmission line of Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) will remain idle during October and April every year because of a decline in hydropower generation in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
“Pakistan invited the Russian Federation to join CASA-1000 for the non-hydel part, as there is room for the transmission of electricity from October to April,” said an official statement.
It quoted the Russian deputy minister as saying that his country already discussed the possibility of joining the CASA-1000 transmission line during the off-peak hydrogenation period with Tajikistan, which has shown willingness to facilitate. The Russian government will soon be taking up the matter with Kyrgyzstan.
The two sides also agreed to follow up with parallel discussions about whether the import of electricity from Russia be kept a government-to-government deal or a commercial arrangement.
Mr Dagha said work has already started on CASA-1000 under which Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will transmit their hydel electricity through the transmission line to Pakistan from May to September. “However, the transmission line will be available to transmit Russian thermal electricity from October to April,” he said. Such a situation can benefit the Russian side and bolster regional connectivity and greater regional cooperation.
Talking about Russia’s investment in the 600MW gas-fired power plant in Jamshoro, Mr Dagha said the project’s feasibility has already been conducted and its PC-1 is also ready for approval. He told the delegation that the power evacuation system already exists at the site, which means it is the “most viable project” for immediate investment for Russia.
The Russian deputy minister for energy said Russian companies have rich experience in the energy sector and many of them are eager to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector.
He said Russia has substantial surplus capacities in thermal and nuclear power plants, which can be readily made available to Islamabad to overcome energy shortages once political and commercial agreements are finalised.
He welcomed Pakistan’s proposal to join CASA-1000 and expressed the willingness to be part of it. He was of the view that Pakistan and Russia should jointly pursue other partners —Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — for speedy outcomes.
He said the Russian side is also eager to pursue the Jamshoro upgradation project and is exploring ways to finance it. Mr Sentyurin said the cooperation between the two countries is strengthening with each passing day.