Production problems fuelled by a coal shortage may start to ease in Dinajpur’s Barapukuria Thermal Power Plant in two weeks, an official has said.
The plant has been running on its stocks of fuel after the Barapukuria Coal Mine suspended operations on May 1.
The authorities resumed experimental mining through a new well on Jul 27 but halted the operations again after three more days as dozens of workers caught COVID-19.
Out of the 300 Chinese workers at the mine, 77 tested positive for the coronavirus, said Saiful Islam Sarker, CEO of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company. Many of the 400 Bangladeshi workers also caught the disease, he said.
Production at the coal-based plant will now totally stop anytime soon due to a fuel shortage, its Chief Engineer Wazed Ali Sarker said on Monday.
Only one of the three units of the plant is operational now, producing around 200 megawatts of electricity.
The problems at the plant added to the woes of the people as the government resorted to rolling blackouts after it stopped buying liquified natural gas or LNG from the spot market due to high prices amid a shortage of the US dollar. More than 50 percent of Bangladesh’s power plants are run by gas.
The government also suspended production at the plants run by costly diesel.
On Tuesday, the plants in Bangladesh produced around 11,700 MW of power against a demand for 13,000 MW.
“It may not be a problem to continue operations for some more days in the way we produced electricity with coal supply halted for three months,” the plant’s Chief Engineer Wazed said on Wednesday.
Saiful, the CEO of the mining company, said, “I think we will be able to start [coal] production within Aug 15.”
The three units of the plant need 5,200 tonnes of coal daily to produce a total of 444 MW of electricity in normal times.
The mine’s daily production was between 4,500 and 5,000 tonnes before it suspended operations.
Saiful said they will be able to extract around 2,200 tonnes of coal when operations resume.
The mine has 390 million tonnes of coal, according to official estimates.
Saiful said they have extracted 13 million tonnes of coal so far.