Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Norochcholai power plant lacks a pier

The topic of the infamous coal power plant came at a party recently. A guest, who seemed to know something of the matter remarked that one of the problems was that the power plant lacked a pier, therefore coal could not be unloaded directly onto the premises.

Instead, the coal is unloaded onto small barges and then transferred to the plant. This is, to say the least, grossly inefficient. Quite apart from the inefficiency, the barges cannot travel if the water is rough, which is pretty much most of the time during the rainy season. I was trying to verify this information and came across this letter, written in 2005 highlighting some of the problems, including the issue of unloading coal.

Another story that the guest had heard was that when the barges cannot transport the coal the ships are held up, so they simply dump the cargo and leave. It sounds a little difficult to believe, does anyone have any more information to share? If they are not dumping the cargo they must be paid heavy demurrage, which pushes up the cost of the coal.


maf said...

the choice of location was always questionable and I remember the 4km jetty from about 10 years back. i don't think a 4 km jetty was ever feasible. I used to work for Holcim and when we setup the coal mill in Puttalam we imported the coal thru Trinco. Getting the coal from Trinco to Puttalam was tremendously expensive but we were waiting for the much awaited jetty when doing the feasibility...looks like they changed their minds about the jetty given the difficulty of building such a long pier. The pier would also have had to have a conveyor belt so again increasing complexity and expense + it would only be in use for the duration of unloading a vessel ( about 6-10 times a year). I reckon a jetty like that would have cost another $50 mil- $75 mil - probably more feasible to dredge a channel upto about 20 m for the ships to come in an unload. All in a costly exercise.

Jack Point said...

Thanks Maf for that comment, welcome to the Blog.

N said...

Hmm...the seas in Kalpitiya are only really calm from around Jan to April, during monsoon times they can be quite fierce.

Jack Point said...

N, It looks pretty scandalous does'nt it?

N said...

I know a commercial diver who worked on this project, you should hear his take on the project. One does wonder what will happen when the house of cards falls down.

Jack Point said...


would you like to share some of these stories? I'm sure many would care to hear them, since the papers don't carry anything.

If you want to know what can happen when Governments go on building white elephant infrastructure/welfare financed by debt, look no further than Greece.