The Mazar-e-Sharif gas-to-power project located near Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan is the first privately-financed gas-fired power plant development in the country. It will also be the country’s first independent power producer (IPP) project to use domestically sourced natural gas.
The 59MW gas-fired power project is being developed and will be operated by Afghan Power Plant Company, a joint venture of Ghazanfar Group, and Egyptian Construction Company Hassan Allam Holdings.
The Mazar-e-Sharif gas-to-power project is backed by a power purchase agreement as well as a gas sales and purchase agreement (GSPA) with Afghanistan’s state-owned enterprises for a period of 20 years.
The project is estimated to cost approximately £71m ($89m). The Afghan Power Plant Company singed the debt financing package from a group of international institutions led by the World Bank in June 2020.
Scheduled to commence operations, after a construction period of 18 months, the Mazar gas power plant is expected to lift Afghanistan’s domestic electricity generation by up to 30%.
It is a significant project for the country which, with only one-third of its population connected to the grid, has one of the world’s lowest electricity penetration rates, while it depends on imported electricity for up to 75% of its energy needs.
Project location and site details
The Mazar-e-Sharif gas-to-power project is located government-owned land in an industrial site in the Dehdadi District of Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan.
The project site is situated within the vicinity of the 48MW Northern Fertilizer Power Plant (NFPP), approximately 17km southwest of the provincial capital Mazar-e Sharif and approximately 15km southeast of the town of Balkh.
The Mazar-e-Sharif power plant will be a gas-fired simple-cycle reciprocating engine based facility with a total installed capacity of 58.6MW. The gas-fired reciprocating engines are expected to be supplied by Wartsila.
The gas engines, associated auxiliary equipment, and spare parts, as well as the gas receiving and interconnection facilities, will be housed within the boundary limits of the plant.
The power plant will be equipped with three units of 30m-tall flue-gas stacks with 1.06m internal diameter each. The flue gas containing CO and NOx will be released at a flow rate of 26m/s and at a temperature of 365°C.
Gas supply for the Mazar power plant
The feed gas for the power plant will be supplied by state-owned Afghan Gas Enterprise (AGE) from the gas fields in Sheberghan under a long-term gas sales and purchase agreement (GSPA). Afghan Power Plant Company agreed to buy gas from AGE at a rate of $2.46 per million British thermal units (MBTU).
The Sheberghan gas fields lie approximately 140km south-west from Mazar-e-Sharif. The power plant will receive gas supply through a new 94.5km pipeline which is currently under construction.
AGE is the owner of both the gas fields and the Sheberghan- Mazar-e-Sharif pipeline (SMPL).
Power off-take and evacuation
The national power utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) will off-take the electricity output of the Mazar-e-Sharif power plant under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) signed in January 2018.
The electricity generated by the plant will be evacuated through a 180km-long 220kV overhead transmission line between Mazar-e-Sharif and Sheberghan which is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2020. Gammon India, a construction company based in India, is the contractor for this transmission project.
The Mazar power plant will be tied into this transmission line through a 12km-long 220kV overhead transmission line.
Mazar-e-Sharif gas-to-power project financing
The £71m ($89m) Mazar-e-Sharif gas-to-power project is being financed through 70% debt and 30% equity.
Ghazanfar Group and Hassan Allam Holdings signed the debt financing package for the project in June 2020.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group which is the mandated lead arranger for the project is providing a £16.8m ($21.2m) senior loan.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is contributing a total of £15.9m ($20m) loan facility including £7.9m ($10m) from its Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP).
German development finance institution DEG is providing the remaining £16.8m ($21.2m) loan facility for the project.