ONGC’s mega power project to ease electricity woes in North East
The electricity crisis in northeastern India is set to ease when the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) first mega power project — the largest in the region — starts generating power by April next year.
“State-owned ONGC’s 726-MW generating capacity first major power project in India will start producing electricity from April next year,” a Tripura power department official told IANS.
The gas-based thermal power project will resolve the power crisis of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura states. It is being commissioned at southern Tripura’s Palatana, 60 km from here.
“State-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has been working to extend the power transmission line from Palatana to the national power grid at Bongaigaon in western Assam,” the official said.
“From the national power grid at Bongaigaon, the electricity will be disseminated in Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram,” he said.
“Subsequently, the project will be able to generate 1,000 MW of power if additional machineries are integrated with the operational turbines,” he added.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar Saturday reviewed the progress of the works for commissioning of the Rs.9,000-crore power plant, for which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone in 2005.
The meeting also assessed the progress of works for commissioning of another 104 MW capacity combined cycle power project, being installed by the public sector company North Eastern Electric Power Corp(NEEPCO).
NEEPCO’s power plant is being set up in West Tripura’s Monarchak, 65 km from Agartala. The Rs.625-crore project will start power generation from January 2013. The ONGC had agreed to provide natural gas for the project.
The oversized heavy turbines and other heavy machines for ONGC’s Palatana project, carried on massive 132-wheeled trucks, had reached the site from Haldia port in West Bengal after being trans-shipped through Bangladesh.
An ONGC official said transporting the heavy equipment to Tripura over a few thousand kilometres of surface routes within India – through the mountainous northeastern states – was extremely difficult, and the Indian authorities were forced to carry the power plant’s equipment through Bangladesh.
“Work on commissioning the power project is in full swing despite the transportation difficulties,” the official said.
A consortium comprising US-based General Electric and India’s state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited(BHEL) has been contracted to supply the all-important gas turbines for the thermal power project, the official added.
ONGC owns significant quantities of natural gas reserves in Tripura. However, these reserves are not yet sufficiently commercially exploited due to the low industrial demand in the northeastern region.
The complexities of logistics and costs limit the economic viability of transporting gas to other deficit parts of the country.
It is to optimally utilise the gas available in Tripura that ONGC proposed developing the 726-MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) thermal power plant close to its gas fields in the state to supply power to deficit areas of northeastern India.