State-run NTPC has floated tenders for importing a total of 4.93 million tonnes (mt) of coal largely to mitigate the shortage from domestic sources and for blending purposes to improve its quality. This is the highest quantity imported by it in the last five years.

The development comes amid India facing a coal supply crisis that threatens to impact power generation, and thereby, may lead to power cuts, a scenario that played out during September-October last year.

India’s largest power generator on its own operates 23 power stations with an installed capacity of 48,120 megawatts (MW). Besides, through joint ventures and subsidiaries, it runs another nine power stations with a capacity of 8,754 MW.

Coal import tenders

On April 11, the CPSU floated four tenders for importing the dry fuel. NTPC floated a tender of 0.2 mt for its Lara power station. Similarly, a tender for importing 1.5 mt was floated for power stations at Kudgi, Solapur, Sipat, Mouda and Gadarwara.

The company also floated two separate tenders of 1.6 mt each for power stations at Khargone, Dadri, Tanda, Unchahar, Farakka, Kahalgaon, Simhadri and Ramagundam.

The successful bidder will supply the imported steam coal sourced from identified mines as declared by him to NTPC power stations. The bidder will also arrange vessels, stevedoring, handling, storage, port clearances, arranging railway rakes, loading, transportation and delivery at the power stations.

All other activities, including clearing and forwarding of the consignments like customs clearance, coordination with ports, Railways and any statutory authorities shall also be part of scope of work of the successful bidder. All liaison, coordination with coal mines outside India, coordination at load port, discharge port, Railways handling agents etc. shall also be handled by the successful bidder, it added.

Unloading of coal at NTPC power stations-end from Railway wagons shall be arranged by the company, the genco said.

In FY21, NTPC received 173.09 mt of coal as against 174.84 mt in FY20. Out of 173.09 mt of coal, 153.25 mt was from annual contracted quantity of coal, 7.97 mt through Bridge Linkage/SCCL bilateral MoU, 10.78 mt from captive mines and 1.08 mt from imported coal. The materialisation of Annual Contracted Quantity (ACQ) was 87.4 per cent in FY21.

Similarly, in FY20, the power generating major received 174.84 mt of coal as against 176.80 mt in FY19. Out of 174.84 mt of coal, 155.21 mt was from ACQ, 6.42 mt through Bridge linkage/SCCL bilateral MoU, 9.92 mt from captive mines, 0.45 mt from e-auction and 2.84 MT from imports.

Coal supply issues

In December last year, the Power Ministry issued an advisory to States and independent power producers (IPP) to use imported coal for blending purposes to the extent of 4 per cent.

However, keeping in view the fact that the daily consumption of coal is more than the actual coal supply at power plants which is resulting in depletion of coal stocks, and in order to ensure coal stocks as per revised coal stocking norms, it was imperative to increase share of imported coal for blending purposes.

Earlier this month, as coal stocks at power plants dipped to the 9-day level, the ministry in order to meet any coal supply shocks from domestic sources advised State gencos and IPPs to use imported coal for blending purpose to the extent of 10 per cent instead of only 4 per cent as this will ensure maintaining adequate coal stocks at the power plant as per the advised coal stock norms.