Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Chinese rip-off of Pakistan?

Much is being made of the promised Chinese investment of $46 billion in Pakistan.
The plans envisage adding 10,400 megawatts of electricity at a cost of $15.5 billion by 2018. 
The China power deals with Pakistan are at $1.5 billion or so per 1000 MW of installed power.

In contrast, in Bangladesh,
"Reliance Power and BPDB today signed a MoU to develop four units of power plants to produce 3,000 MW of electricity with a cost of $3 billion," the company said in a statement. .....Adani Power will set up two coal-fired plants with a total capacity of 1,600 MW that will cost more than $1.5 billion.
The Indian companies are doing it in Bangladesh at $1 billion per 1000 MW.

This is consistent with Tata Power in Vietnam:
Long Phu 3 plant is also expected to cost roughly $2 billion, with a capacity of 2,000 MW.

Back to Pakistan:
The 1,320 megawatts coal-fired power plant, known as Port Qasim Power Project, near Karachi will be jointly carried out by Chinese Power Construction Corp with 51% and Qatar’s Al Mirqab Capital with 49% stakes in the project with a total cost of $2.1 billion.
The above is about $1.6 billion per 1000 MW, and this is without overhead one might think is contributing to the costs in other projects (e.g., setting up coal mining in Thar, or setting up railway capacity to transport coal from the port city Karachi to the interior of Punjab).

Same article, here's the Thar project, where mines will be set up to use coal relatively recently discovered in Thar:
The mining will cost $950 million while $1.1 billion will be required for power generation for the 660 megawatts coal-fired power project, he said.
$1.1B for 660MW works out to about $1.6B per 1000 MW.

It would seem to me that friendship with China is costing Pakistan 50% above the market rate for power plants. The friendship has to be indeed taller than mountains and deeper than seas for it to survive market forces.

I hesitate to call it the Chinese rip-off of Pakistan only because the Pakistanis have successfully extracted billions out of the US of A without giving anything substantial in return; and it may be in their nature to try to do the same with the Chinese.

PS: the cost in the US for a new coal power plant ranges from $3B to $6.6B per 1000 MW but I would expect costs in Pakistan to be more in line with Bangladesh and Vietnam.