Salang Pass for TUTAP most appropriate solution: German firm
KABUL (Pajhwok): Fichtner, the German technical advising firm, has advised the Afghan government in a letter that keeping the Salang Pass route for the 500kv TUTAP power line would be the most appropriate solution.
In the letter to Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the German firm summarized reasons for the power utility’s and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s decision to select the Salang Pass route for the north-south connection in Afghanistan.
It cited one of the reasons for choosing Salang Pass the additional cost of $35 million needed for the overhead line in Bamyan, a 500/220/20kv substation needed in Bamyan to supply power to the province and additional cost for security and demining during the construction period.
In addition to the costs, the project could be delayed by approximately two years --- a time required for designing and tendering the new route.
According to Fichtner, other consequences could be a delay in the implementation of power purchase and sales agreement with Turkmenistan (signed in Nov, 2015), supposed to be implemented by 2018.
The power to provinces in the south and Kabul might be deferred by two to three years and also the completed downstream power infrastructure could not be energized and protected against theft.
The project financing from US and Japan (90 percent for this line) may be in jeopardy if the project is delayed, the German company said in the letter.
In 2012, the Afghanistan Power Sector Master plan (ASMP) desk study, conducted by Fichtner for the Asian Development Bank from its home office in Stuttgurt, the optimum solution for the north-south connection was investigated.
Two transmission line corridors for the subject routing were considered, namely Dashe-e-Alwan (Pul-e-Khumri) to Kabul (Arghande) using Salang corridor, or Dashe-e-Alwan (Pul-e-Khumri) to Kabul (Arghande) using Bamyan link.
According to the survey, the cost and line through Salang Pass was shorter than the Bamyan route, but at that time it was considered that a third line could not be passed through the Pass, but damages by avalanches and natural hazards were feared and in case of a single incident on the route to Kabul, the power would be disconnected.
While in that survey, the Bamayn route was considered to be preferred due to the lower point from the sea level and to let the Salang Pass have space for another power line (CASA-1000), while the costs of the Bamyan Pass route are higher as the line is longer.
According to the first survey, the Bamya corridor was favored due to the following assumptions:
(i) By 2018, 800 MW coal power generation plants will be built by Hajighak iron mine investors (Canadian-Indian Consortium) plus a 400 MW to coal power generation will be built by Aynak copper mine investors (MCC China).
(ii) CASA-1000 project would use the Salang corridor in 2014 leaving no space for the subject line to utilize Slalang corridor.
In 2013, Fichtner carried out an on-field survey to ascertain the subject line routing through the Salang Pass, supplemented by high resolution satellite imagery to verify if this route could be used. The results of the survey showed that the route was possible.
The funds available from ADB were sufficient to finance an overhead transmission line through the Salang Pass but insufficient for the Bamyan route --- approximately $35 million more expensive (mainly due to the longer route).
At the time, the decision for Salang Pass was made, MEW also had concerns on the security situation between Dushi and Bamyan which would have posed significant construction challenges.
By mid 2013, when such walk-through survey was completed by Fichtner team, power generation with coal was seen as postponed to some distant future dates. In the meantime, the CASA project has found an alternative route through central Panjsher province.
In view of the above facts and developments, it was decided in 2013 by the parties involved (DABS, ADB, MEW and OF) that the Salang Pass corridors would be used to construct the 500kv line between Dasht-i-Alwan (Pul-i-Kumri) to Kabul (Arghande).
In the meantime, the 500 kv overhead transmission line across the Salang Pass route has been tendered and negotiation were carried out with successful bidder. The additional cost for the overhead line would be approximately $35 million
• To provide power to Bamyan, a 500/220/20kv substation in Bamyan is required.
• There might also be additional cost for security and demining during the construction period.
• The project will be delayed by approximately two years which is the time required for the designing and tendering of the new route.
• Other consequences could be the delay in the implementation of the power purchase and sales agreements with Turkmenistan (signed in Nov, 2015).
• Power to the province in the south and Kabul might have to be deferred by two to three years.
• The completed downstream power infrastructure cannot be energized and cannot be protected against theft.
• Project financing may be in jeopardy from US and Japan (90 percent for this line) if the project is delayed.
In case, the final decision is to keep the Salang pass route, an alternative to provide the Bamyan regions with energy can be investigated. These could be a photo voltage generation or a 200kv transmission link from Charikar which will have more supply options (from Taj, UzB, Turk and locations generation).
Due to the advanced stage of the project, Fichtner considers that keeping the Salang Pass route will be the most appropriate solution. If the contract with the winning bidder is signed shortly, works could start within next weeks.
The Asian Development Bank (ABD) in a letter to DABS dated 11 May, 2016 about its assistance for the 220kv transmission line (Pusht-i-Surkh to Bamyan) and substation in Bamyan said the design work on the line would be started this month and completed by November.
Once the cost estimates are confirmed, the ABD will process the project for tranche 4 ($1.2 billion) under the already approved Energy MFF 2 (Energy Supply Improvement Investment Programme).
Through the advanced procurement modality, the bank said, the bidding documents for the project would be issued in November this year and construction activities could begin in the second quarter of 2017.
The envisaged construction time for both activities (transmission line and substation) would be 18-24 months, as construction activity is slowed in Bamyan during the winter months.
The ABD said it would closely work with the Afghan government to get the important project completed at the earliest and before the 500kv transmission line (Pul-i-Khumri to Kabul) was commissioned.
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