China Three Gorges Corporation willing to finance power projects in Pakistan

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Pakistan has offered for financing seven to eight hydroelectric power projects on the upper Indus basin to China Three Gorges Corporation, which is willing to participate in a consortium to fund up to $50 billion worth of schemes in the energy-starved country.

The biggest project that the government has identified and begun preliminary work on is the Diamer-Bhasha dam, which will require an estimated $15 billion and will have electricity production capacity of 4,500 megawatts.

These projects were outlined in talks between a delegation of the Chinese state-owned energy company, led by Chief Executive Qin Guo Bin, and Federal Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif here on Tuesday.

China Three Gorges owns and operates the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric power project with a generation capacity of 22,500MW.

Apart from Diamer-Bhasha, Bunji, Thakot, Munda and other hydroelectric power projects with a capacity of 35,000MW came up for review.

According to officials aware of the development, senior officials of the Ministry of Water and Power are currently on a visit to China to hold talks on energy-related matters and comprehensive deliberations will be held on August 28.

China Three Gorges Corporation has expressed interest in financing projects in Pakistan in association with the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank. The offer comes on top of the $46-billion financing for power and other infrastructure schemes being provided by the Chinese government and Chinese banks for building an economic corridor called CPEC.

According to studies undertaken by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Pakistan has the potential to produce up to 60,000MW of hydroelectric power. Of this, 40,000MW can be generated in a region called the Indus cascade, which begins in Skardu (Gilgit-Baltistan) and runs through to Tarbela, the site of Pakistan’s biggest dam in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. However, so far only 6,919MW has been tapped.

In a statement, the Ministry of Water and Power said areas of mutual interest and cooperation in energy projects were discussed during the meeting with the Chinese delegation.

Responding to the Chinese company’s interest in pouring capital into hydroelectric power projects, the minister gave his full backing to the Indus Energy Cascade including Diamer Bhasha, Bunji, Thakot and other projects.

He said the chairman of Wapda would provide all data about the planned seven to eight projects on the upper Indus and the water and power ministry along with the Finance Division would facilitate and cooperate with prospective Chinese investors.

Asif also emphasised the importance of power projects in the context of the energy corridor, saying mega energy projects would add a new dimension to the CPEC programme. He praised Chinese companies for their efforts for infrastructure development in the country and voiced the hope that with the passage of time bilateral relations would further strengthen.

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