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    Bustling Matarbari

Mollah Amzad Hossain, Editor, Energy & power
Bustling Matarbari

Mollah Amzad Hossain

An unknown remote island of the Bay of Bengal has now turned into a widely known name in Bangladesh. Matarbari of Cox’s Bazar is now well set to emerge as the beacon in the energy landscape of Bangladesh. Only a decade back, it was an abode for the few working class people. They took shelter along the coastal protection bank of Bangladesh Water Development Board. But in only five years, the landscape changed into a busy bustling workplace for thousands of workers. Thousands of local and foreign people are working day and night for deepening a link-canal to the sea and reclaiming land way above the highest level of tidal surges. Matarbari is turning into an energy hub with the prospect of a deep-sea port eventually.

Development of Matarbari as an energy hub was included in the master plan of power and energy sector about 10 years from now. Decision was taken to set up a 1,200 MW ultra super critical technology-using coal-based power plant and a coal import port at Matarbari, with a loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). After signing the $US 3.5 billion loan agreement with JICA, the issue of engaging contractor stumbled due to adverse impact of Gulshan Holey Artisan horror. Finally, in early 2017, the tender could be floated and after evaluation of offers, agreement for construction of the power plant could be concluded between SUMITO-TOSHIBA-IHI Japan and Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh (CPGCL), which was created as a public sector company in Bangladesh in 2011. It started functioning after few years. Matarbari power project under JICA loan was their first project. They are also working now in few other projects adjacent to Maheshkhali upazila.

1,200 MW Coal Power Plant

Using superior Japanese technology, the preparatory works for construction of the first ultra-super critical coal-fired power plant is progressing at a good pace now. The contract between the CPGCL and Japanese consortium of Sumitomo corporation– Toshiba corporation–IHI Corporation was signed in July 27, 2017.  The contract value is of US$ 3.8 billion. The development works of land and port channel started in August. But due to a false security alarm in January 2018, the work was stopped for a while. But later on 28 January, the work of the 2X660 MW power plant resumed through formal launching by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina through a video conferencing on January 28, 2018. For the power plant, the land at Matarbari South needs to be developed up to 10-meter high. Protection embankment needs to be constructed. For coal port, deep canal needs to be constructed linking the Bay of Bengal to Matarbari project site. The general contractor for these works has engaged Penta-Ocean Construction Co. Ltd. of Japan and Hyundai and Posco of Korea as subcontractors.

Penta-Ocean has started working to develop a 14.5 km long, 250 meters wide and 18.5 meters deep feeder canal. The canal has already reached 7 meters depth. The remaining works would take another 33 months. The link-canal would be ready by June 2021. Then the work of coal port construction would start. This port would be able to handle two 80,000 tonnes capacity coal carriers simultaneously. The work is expected to be completed by 2023.

The 1,200 MW ultra super critical power plant would be constructed on the Southern side of the island.  Identifying 1,400 acres of land for it, the land development has been started. Excluding ash pond and other water body, the rest of the land would be raised to 10-meter height. The land development for power plant block is being done on priority basis.  Three meters development including compaction is already completed. If everything goes well, the land would be ready for pile driving by May 2020. According to the plan, the land should be ready for piling by May 2020. For land development of power block, Bangladesh for the first time is using Deep Mixing Method (DMM) and Pre-Fabricated Vertical Drain (PVD) methods.

CPGCL is optimistic that by January 2024, the first 660 MW and by June 2024, the second 660 MW units would start commercial operation. Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) has also started working on a 400 KV power transmission line for evacuating power from this plant.

Sembcorp – CPGCL 1,400 MW Joint Venture Project

CPGCL and Sembcrop have signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) for another 1,400 MW coal power plant at North Matarbari. Around1,400 acres of land has been acquired for this plant. FISCHNER Germany has been appointed as owner engineer. Aecom India has been engaged for Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA). Six companies have been short-listed for engaging EPC contractor. Completing the request for proposal (RFP), the detail proposal from the six companies would be invited after completing the RFP. By end 2018 these works would be completed.

But Sembcrop has sold 50% of its share to Mitsui Corporation before starting the project works. The plant is planned to come into operation in 2025. Project completion time would be reduced. A port channel and port construction would be completed simultaneously.

LNG-Based Power Plant

CPGCLhas signed a MoU with MITSUI & CO. LTD Japan for a 500-600 MW capacity joint venture LNG-based power plants in North Matarbari. Consultant has been engaged for the feasibility study.

Tuv Sud Bangladesh Limited is working with CPGCL for a 200 MW wind power plant at MatarbariThey have started works on wind-mapping there. If wind velocity is suitable, works would start in 2019.

SUMITOMO – CPGCL 1,200 MW Coal Power Plant

CPGCL has signed JV agreement with Sumitomo Corporation for another 1,200 MW coal power plant at Ujandia, opposite of Matarbari. Works for land purchase is in progress. Tender has been invited for engaging companies for feasibility study and SEIA. CPGCL thinks that land development cannot be started before 2020.

Coal Transshipment Terminal (CTT)

Coal port under construction now in Matarbari can feed the 3,800 MW total generation capacity of CPGCLBut for coal supply to the eight planned coal-fired plants in Maheshkhali and other adjacent areas, Sumitomo Corporation showed interest for developing a 30 million tonnes capacity coal transshipment terminal (CTT). Initiative has been taken to acquire 500-600 acres of land besides the coal port connecting channel. But that initiative subsequently did not proceed. But that may again get momentum when works would start for making Maheshkhali as central hub of power and energy.

Deep-Sea Port

Upon request of Bangladesh government, JICA has commenced a study on the prospect of a deep seaport on Matarbari Channel. Around 1,600 acres of land has been acquired besides the under-construction port-connecting channel. Relevant sources expect that JICA would submit report by the end of this year. Only then it could be known when the deep seaport construction can be started and completed for operation.

JICA has recently conducted a seminar on their study. It has been stated that Matarbari-Maheshkhali must come under a comprehensive plan as a prelude to deep seaport construction. Without considering a deep seaport in the region, the implementation of so many imported coal-based power plant and LNG import terminals has already become an issue. The JICA presentation evidenced that Chittagong Port can now handle 2,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers annually. Colombo Port of Sri Lanka handles 19,200 TEUs, Jawharlal Neheru Port of India handles 13,100 TEUs and the capacity of Chennai Port is 6,800 TEUs. JICA proposed to set up 8,000 TEUs deep-sea port at Matarbari. This will be similar to Kashima and Nigata (East) port of Japan.

The government plan states of 8-lane highway, connecting this port to rest of Bangladesh. There is a plan for extending a railway network also.

Earlier, it was suggested considering a deep seaport on priority basis for supporting mega power and energy projects in Matarbari and Maheshkhali. But without stressing on deep seaport, there is a rush for setting up of power plants and LNG terminals in the region.


This article has been printed under a syndication arrangement with energy and power

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