March 19, 2019 / 7:05 AM / a year ago

Pakistan's Engro starts operations at large lignite power station

KARACHI, Islamabad, March 19 (Reuters) - Pakistan’s Engro Powergen Thar Private Ltd (EPTL) on Tuesday started test run operations at a large power station that will use domestic lignite coal to generate electricity, the company’s chief executive told Reuters.

With a fast growing population and its economy also expanding, Pakistan has had trouble meeting surging demand for electricity, while the cost of importing oil and natural gas has soared.

The power station’s two 330-megawatt (MW) units will burn domestic lignite, a cheap but polluting energy source, from the Tharparkar district, around 390 km (242 miles) east of Karachi.

“We are running the plant on 100 percent local coal, thus generating cheap and abundant power in this country,” Ahsan Zafar Syed, EPTL’s chief executive, said by telephone.

The station’s first unit was connected to the power grid on Monday and the second unit will be connected in April, he said.

Commercial operations are expected to start from June.

EPTL is part of the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that involves building new infrastructure to help turn Pakistan into a major overland route linking China to the wider region.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Henning Gloystein and Richard Pullin

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