Sharif to seek Chinese help for nuclear plant during visit

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to seek Chinese help for development projects including a nuclear power plant during his visit to Beijing.

Updated: Jul 02, 2013, 19:50 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to seek Chinese help for various development projects including a major nuclear power plant during his visit to Beijing this week, media reports said on Tuesday.

Sharif has opted to visit China for his maiden official foreign trip since taking power in June as he struggles to address Pakistan`s crippling energy crisis and revive its ailing economy.

"Some of the items on the premier`s request include a 1,100 MW nuclear power plant, release of USD 448 million loan for the 969 MW Neelum-Jhelum hydro power project and setting up of an oil refinery at Gwadar port," reported The Express Tribune.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) will build the USD 9.5 billion nuclear power plant, called Karachi Coastal Power.
The project is part of Pakistan government`s efforts to improve the energy mix and enhance the nuclear component to 8,800 MW by 2030.

Pakistan and China have a history of close cooperation in nuclear field as Beijing helped to build the Chashma I and II plants with capacity of 300 MW each.

Two more plants called Chashma III and IV with 340 MW each will be commissioned by 2016.

All these projects are subject to the safeguards of the global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The fresh nuclear cooperation may not go down well with the 46-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which takes a very critical view of nuclear assistance to non-NSG states.
Apart from seeking help in nuclear field, the Pakistani premier will also ask for release of funds for Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Neelum-Jhelum is a strategic hydropower project for securing water rights over the Neelum River, on which India is also constructing the Kishanganga Dam. The Chinese had withheld the money after Pakistan`s Supreme Court cancelled the Islamabad Safe City Project contract awarded to a Chinese company.

"However, now the Chinese government has cleared the loan and Pakistan has signed a loan agreement with the Exim Bank of China amounting to USD 448 million," the paper said.

The government also wants to revive the defunct Coastal Oil Refinery Project at Gwadar in Balochistan province, which was shelved by China in 2009-10 after operations of Gwadar port were awarded to Singapore Port Authority (SPA).

The refinery was designed to reach a daily output of 60,000 barrels of crude oil and was part of China`s plan to invest $12 billion in multiple projects in Pakistan.

The prospects of reviving the project lit up after Pakistan handed over operation of the Gwadar port to China in May.

Sharif will also discuss the prospects of building an energy corridor to China by linking it with Gwadar through the Karakoram Highway and railways.

The two countries have already decided to increase the current bilateral trade worth $12 billion to $15 billion by 2015.