The 335-megawatt Siddhirganj power plant in Narayanganj has turned out to be the most expensive power plant project of the world.
The Tk 42.39 billion project started in 2012 and was expected to be completed within four years.
However, a recent report of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the planning ministry says that 22 per cent of the construction works is yet to be finished, according to bdnews24.com.
It says that the generation cost in this project will be $961 per kilowatt, which is the highest among all combined cycle power plants (CCPP) across the globe.
According to the report, its generation cost is even higher that the Dominion Virginia Power Plant in the US ($955 per kilowatt) and the Pakistan Electric Power Company, Sindh ($854 per kilowatt).
Haripur 412 megawatt CCPP ($847 per kilowatt) comes next in costs followed by US’s FGE Power Texas ($800 per kilowatt).
With independent consultant engineer Abu Bakar Md Momshad Mashreki, IMED prepared the report after a close scrutiny of the ongoing project.
The report expresses doubt over successful completion of the gas turbine power plant.
When compared to other “turnkey” power plant projects, its construction cost has been found much higher than its electricity generation capacity, the report shows.
However, Project Manager Nazmul Alam claimed that the cost was justified.
“IMED scrutinised the project with a private consultant. I don’t know based on what the consultant had done the comparative analysis,” Nazmul said.
“Most of the equipments used in the plant are bought from abroad. The price varies depending on the quality and origin of the products used,” he added.
The design of the plant shows that it lacks option for using alternative fuel. Only natural gas can be used in the power plant.
Highlighting the growing paucity of natural gas in Bangladesh, the IMED report stressed that power generation might come to a halt if supply of natural gas is suspended to the Siddhirganj power plant.
The government signed an agreement with two foreign construction companies for Siddhirganj power plant in 2012.
The Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh Ltd (EGCB) signed the agreement with Samsung C & T Corporation, the construction and trading arm of South Korea's Samsung Group, and Spain's Isolux Ingenieria SA.
Recent media reports said that Isolux has discontinued the project in Bangladesh due to financial constraints.
The IMED reported disputes between the contractor and EGCB and in between the contractor and sub-contractors.
Therefore, although 78 per cent of the work has been done, the turbine installation was still pending, it said.
Brushing off the apprehensions, project manager Nazmul hoped to finish the project by this year.
The government has taken Tk 31 billion loan from the World Bank to implement Tk 42.39 billion project. Tk 6.09 billion comes from government fund while Tk 4.35 billion from EGCB, the organisation responsible for the implementation.
Managing Director of EGCB Johirul Hoque Majumder said, “I came six months ago. I wasn’t here during the tenders. So I cannot say anything.”