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Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project

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The Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project (also sometimes referred to as the 'Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project') is a 4000 megawatt (MW) power station, comprising five 800MW units. The first unit was commissioned in March 2012, the second in July 2012, the third in October 2012, the fourth in January 2013 and the fifth and last unit in March 2013. The power station is located in Gujarat, India.

Location

The undated satellite photo below shows the power station in the village of Tunda Wand, Mundra taluk, Kutch district, Gujarat state, India.

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Background

The power station is owned by Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power. The power station is located south of Tunda Wand village in Mundra Taluka, Kutch district of Gujarat, India.[1]

The power station is one of nine Ultra Mega Power Projects the Indian government wants to be built by private sector companies before 2017.[2] The first 800 MW generating unit was commissioned in March 2012[3][1] The second 800MW unit was commissioned in July 2012. Units 3-5 are projected by the Central Electricity Authority to be commissioned in 2013.[4]

In August 2014 the India Supreme Court stayed a planned rate hike for the plant, and minutes from a July 31-Aug. 1 meeting of the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ (MoEF) Expert Appraisal Committee revealed that the EAC refused to greenlight the 1,660 MW expansion of Tata Mundra, citing the company’s failure to meet the conditions set in the existing Environmental Clearance (EC) for the project.[5] The EAC called for a site visit by a sub-committee for compliance of conditions stipulated in the environment clearance and detailed action plan along with budgetary provisions for a public hearing.[6]

Project Details

Sponsor: Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL)
Parent company: Tata Power Company Limited
Location: Tunda Wand village, Mundra taluk, Kutch district, Gujarat[1]
Coordinates: 22.8158, 69.5281 (exact)
Status:

  • Unit 1: Commissioned February 2012[7]
  • Unit 2: Commissioned July 2012[8]
  • Unit 3: Commissioned October 2012[9]
  • Unit 4: commissioned January 2013 [10]
  • Unit 5: commissioned March 2013[10]
  • Unit 6: Pre-permit development
  • Unit 7: Pre-permit development

Nameplate capacity:

  • Unit 1: 800 MW
  • Unit 2: 800 MW
  • Unit 3: 800 MW
  • Unit 4: 800 MW
  • Unit 5: 800 MW
  • Unit 6: 830 MW
  • Unit 7: 830 MW

Type: Supercritical
Projected in service:

  • Units 6 and 7:

Coal Type:
Coal Source: Indonesia and elsewhere[11]
Estimated annual CO2:
Source of financing:

Permits and applications:

Users

The project will sell electricity to utilities in five Indian states -- Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in western India and Haryana and Punjab in northern India. Sales will be through 25-year take-or-page Power Purchase Agreements.[11]

Coal Source

Singapore-based shipper Trust Energy Resources, owned by India's Tata Power, commenced shipping coal to the Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project in September 2011. The plant will contract its coal from Tata’s coal mines in Indonesia, where it owns 30% of PT Bumi Resources. The mines are producing around 60 million tonnes of coal and will scale up to 75 million tonnes by end-2012. Executive director of Tata Power, S Ramakrishnan, said the project’s coal requirement is around 2 million tonnes. At the start of January 2012, one 800MW plant will go online every 3-4 months, until the entire plant is up-and-running by mid-2013.[14]

In an April 2012 investor presentation stated that it has a coal offtake agreement "with Indocoal for 10.11MTPA (±20%)."[15]

Citizen protest

In May 2011, a group known as Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) filed a collective protest against the Tata Ultra Mega Power Plant project, saying there are high risks to the project without proper mitigation and accountability measures. The group has filed a complaint aginst the IFC, whose financing of high-risk coal plants in India faces community resistance. The IFC's Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) has accepted a complaint against the Plant in Mundra, Gujarat. CAO is the independent body of IFC that handles disputes and compliance issues with its investments.

MASS says the plant is located in the special economic zone (SEZ) that cuts across fishing grounds, habitat of diverse marine lives and wide expanse of farm land, and that the project’s social impact assessment is significantly flawed, as fishing communities were excluded from the list of those directly impacted and IFC green lighted the loan without a cumulative impact assessment. The MASS complaint came two months after villagers in Odisha state formally challenged IFC’s funding for the GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited.[16]

In June 2011, a complaint representing various potentially affected fishing communities was also filed with the CAO, raising issues of environmental and health hazards and displacement.[17]

Financing

As of March 2008, projected costs cited by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, were $4.14 billion, implying a 25-year levelised tariff of INR2.26 per kWh.[18] Those estimates are considerably lower than estimates for other proposed supercritical plants. In 2012 Tata stated that the cost of production is Rs. 2.9 per kilowatt hour and is seeking to renegotiate the Power Purchase Agreements.[19]

With an estimated total project cost of US$ 4.14 billion, the IFC is providing a $450 million loan and $50 million in equity, as well as syndicating up to about $300 million in B loans.[20] Other financial institutions funding the project are the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Asian Development Bank, India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd., Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd., Oriental Bank of Commerce, Vijaya Bank, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore, the State Bank of Indore and other local banks.[21]

The IFC has stated that it is financially supporting the project because it:

"is the first private sector power project in India to be based on the energy efficient supercritical technology. The use of this technology in this plant will help reduce the average Green House Gases (GHG) emissions of Indian power plants per unit of electricity generated in the country. Based on the new technology and other measures being taken by the company, the project will meet the IFC social and environmental Performance Standards. This is also IFC’s first financing of a supercritical plant anywhere in the world."[18] (See financing section below for more details).

In defending its 2008 decision to invest in the plant, the IFC stated that:

"The project will provide a competitive source of electricity to partly reduce the current power shortages and help meet the growing demand for electricity in the country. Cheap and reliable power from the project will help in improving the competitiveness of Indian manufacturing and services industries which have to often rely on expensive standby diesel generation to fulfill their power needs. Competitively priced power will also improve access to electricity in rural and urban areas of the country while reducing the subsidy burden on state governments. Therefore, the project will have significant impact not only in terms of reducing the prevalent demand supply gap but in reducing the average electricity costs in the country leading to improved access and industrial competitiveness…The project will contribute to enhanced access to electricity through supply of cheap and reliable power."[22]

On its website the IFC makes clear that its funding was crucial for allowing the project to proceed. The IFC stated that "the project has large debt financing need in excess of $3 billion which the local banks will find difficult to fulfill."[22]

The IFC also stated that it saw the benefits of its investment in terms of both reducing the risk profile of both the specific Tata Mundra project as well as the Indian power sector generally. The IFC stated that the project:

"needs long term financing to achieve financial closure with reasonable comfort to lenders. While Indian local banks are able to provide financing with door to door tenors of about 15 years for this project, IFC will provide its debt with much longer tenor of about 20 years and higher average maturity than the local banks. This will enable the project to be structured in a way which will reduce its risk profile and enable it to attract more foreign and local bank financing. The significantly longer tenor of IFC loan will further improve the risk profile of the Indian power sector and enable it to attract international financing in the future."[22]

The IFC's dream of 'cheap power' evaporates

Before the first unit of the power project was even commissioned, the economic viability of the project had collapsed. One significant factor was the mid-2011 decision of the Indonesian government to require coal exporters to sell coal at or above a specified rate after September 23, 2011. The Indonesian government policy is to align the export price with the international price, which has skyrocketed in recent years due to surging demand and tight supplies.[23]

Tata's customers -- the states of Gujarat (which will buy 1,900MW), Maharashtra (800MW), Punjab (500MW) and Rajasthan (400MW) and Haryana (400MW) -- have told Tata that they will agree to an increase in the power tariff above the agreed Rs. 2.26 per kilowatt hour. The company have stated that the cost of production is Rs. 2.9 per kilowatt hour.[24]

D.J. Pandian, the principal secretary, energy and petrochemicals of the Gujarat government, was noted as having told a meeting of of officials and executives overseeing the Mundra project that as the company was a shareholder in an Indonesian mine they "should try to impress upon the Indonesian government to reconsider the applicability of the new coal-pricing regulation with prospective effect and request the Indonesian government to exempt existing contracts (contracts already executed) from being affected.” The minutes of the meeting recorded Pandian as stating that "any regulation can be challenged and there is no restriction on the same. Further, all the procurers are of the consensus view that CGPL should take judiciary’s help in Indonesia since it is actually the affected party who has to file an appeal.” However, the minutes stated that Pandian stated that "CGPL officials said that they have consulted their legal advisers and found that it is difficult for them to challenge the Indonesian government. CGPL also said that since they have only 30% stake in the blocks, they will need to get approval of all other partners to go for a legal remedy.”[25]

The Association of Power Producers (APP), a lobbying group representing private power producers including Tata Power, Reliance Power, Adani Power, Lanco Infratech and Essar Power, reacted to the change in Indonesian pricing by demanding the Indian government allow the cost increases to be passed directly on to consumers. APP director general Ashok Khurana told the Economic Times that under current contracts power companies cannot pass the costs on from price changes in the exporting country and that this would affect approximately a third of the 43,000MW from power projects with under construction. "Power companies had offered bids based on their agreements with fuel suppliers predominantly in Indonesia. If the companies are not able to honour their commitments, it would be a concern for bankers and consumers," he said.[23]

Tata Mundra undermining Tata's financial viability

In late May 2012 Tata announced a huge loss for the 2011/2012 financial year. The Business Standard stated that the company had been "battered by the huge provision for the 4,000-Mw Mundra power project." In response to its financial crisis Tata has been lobbying the Indian government to allow the increased costs of imported coal to be passed through to customers.[26]

As a part of its lobbying pressure on the Indian government Tata has announced that it will suspend work on all its other power stations relying on imported coal. This particularly affects the Coastal Maharashtra Project, a proposed 2400 megawatt (MW) coal plant in Maharashtra state. "As of now we have put all our imported coal plans on hold," Tata's Chief Financial Officer S. Ramakrishnan told Reuters. The expansion, he said, will be "subject to the (Indian) government coming out with an appropriate policy on how the issue of imported coal price will be handled and how the export restrictions that are being brought in by the export countries ultimately settle."[27]

Tata Power's Managing Director, Anil Sardan, said in a June 2012 interview with the Business Standard that "we are doing everything possible like blending the fuel with cheaper Indonesian coal on which we get a higher discount. Today, we are already burning 50 per cent of very low-grade coal — which is much more than our original plan. The plant load factor is 90 per cent. We have also asked for domestic coal as a solution. There are some other options as well."[26].

While Tata is lobbying the Indian government, the outcome is far from certain. The Ministry of Power has referred the request for increased costs to be passed through to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), which has not yet reached a decision. However, a decision to allow Tata to increase its recovered price may be subject to legal challenge. “Even if CERC rules in favour of Tata Power, it’s not going to bring any immediate relief as other bidders in the race and state electricity boards (SEBs), who have signed PPAs (power purchase agreements) with Tata Power, are bound to challenge the order,” a Mumbai-based analyst told Livemint.com on condition of anonymity.[28]

Is Tata Mundra "doomed to fail"?

In May 2012 Livemint.com reported that the company had disclosed that "certain financial covenants in respect of loans taken by CGPL" were not met by the end of 2011-12. "These (covenants) are financial ratios defined in the loan agreements. Due to the impairment charge and foreign exchange fluctuations, some of these ratios are different (from what they should be)," said S. Ramakrishnan, the executive director (finance) at Tata Power. Ramakrishnan stated that the company was was seeking a waiver of the covenants by the lenders.[29]

The company stated that in a bid to "provide protection" to CGPL and bolster its cash flow Tata Power stated that it planned to transfer to it at least 75% of its equity interest in the Indonesian coal units and “continue to evaluate other alternative options”. According to Ramakrishnan CGPL's lenders were concerned that income from power sale would not be enough to service the Rs.14,000 crore loans for the debt component of the power station. The remaining 25% share of the project cost is to be met through equity. While Ramakrishnan claimed that the move "gives comfort" to lenders while an Indian investment analyst, commenting on condition of anonymity, stated that CGPL is “is doomed to fail unless the power tariff agreements are renegotiated”.[29]

Livemint noted that "While the entire equity was denominated in Indian rupees, about 60% of the debt was in dollars. The sharp rupee depreciation this fiscal [year] has made CGPL’s equity base smaller and its dollar-debt larger, throwing its financial ratios off the track."[29]

Following its annual results an investment analyst asked Tata Power what it was assuming the long term coal price would be and what the exchange rate would be. S. Ramakrishnan stated that they estimated that "the coal price is somewhere in the 90s [US] with 2% increase going forward on a long-term basis" and that the long term exchange rate "has been now looked at in the range of 45.5 in the long run, that is higher in the initial period."[30]

Analysts downgrade Tata Power

In mid-July 2012 Standard & Poor's downgraded Tata Power's credit rating to negative on the grounds that the breaches of covenants on debt to equity ratios on loans for the Mundra project could result in increased costs for the company. "The availability of loans to the project, which Tata Power's 100%-owned subsidiary Coastal Gujarat Pvt. Ltd. (CGPL) controls, could therefore be limited," said S&P Poor's credit analyst Rajiv Vishwanathan. With the increased possibility that the company would need to fund additional units itself, the commissioning dates of the additional units could be affected.[31]

The potential failure of Tata Mundra is posing profound financial problems for the whole Tata Power company and its massive expansion plans. In late June 2012 Reuters reported that Moody's was reviewing Tata Power and considering a potential rating downgrade.[32] IRIS reported that Moody's "rating action reflects material covenant breaches on bank debt associated with TPC`s Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project (being executed under TPC`s 100% subsidiary Coastal Gujarat or CGPL), and questions relating to the project`s long-term impact on TPC`s financial profile, absent changes to cost or tariff structures. However, the covenant breaches do not constitute a payment default."[33]

The Economic Times reported that Ray Tay, a Moody's Associate Vice President with responsibility for Tata Power, said that Moody's may conclude its review in one to three months. He also stated that Tata Power was in the process of obtaining waivers from several financial institutions. "While waivers are being negotiated, TPC will be subject to curtailment of new draws once it reaches the currently approved level of 83 per cent of the project facility, thereby introducing greater liquidity risk, absent additional bank waivers," Tay said.[34]

In early October 2012 Moody's announced that it had decided to downgrade its rating for Tata Power from B1 from Ba3. "The downgrades reflect the deterioration in TPC's credit quality as a result of the impact of weak coal prices on its Indonesian coal mines, as well as the continuing uncertainty related to unresolved bank waivers and the tariff renegotiations for its Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project," Tay stated.[35]

According to Moody's, the Power Purchase Agreement Tata Power entered into with the utilities was predicated on low Indonesian coal prices.

"tariffs for CGPL's Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) combine both fixed and variable elements, including fuel costs. The company currently is able to pass through only 45% of the fuel costs to its customers. In addition, the CGPL unit relies entirely on coal imported from Indonesia. Its profitability has been affected by the Indonesian government's directive that coal be sold at market rates, thereby exposing it to considerably higher costs than expected at the inception of the Mundra project. TPC's bid for the Mundra unit was based on the expectation that coal prices would be well below the current market rates. Although TPC has brought its case to the regulator to start renegotiating its PPAs to address fuel-cost risks, progress will take time. The lack of precedents makes it difficult to assess the likely outcome and timeline."[35]

Fire at Tata Mundra power station, India, November 2013

On November 14 2013 a fire broke out on a coal conveyor at the coal-handling plant at Coastal Gujarat Power Limited's (CGPL) 4000 MW Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project. In a regulatory filing on December 6 stated that "coal feeding to the plant was impacted due to fire and the repair works that followed. Restoration of the impact of fire on conveyor was achieved on November 20, 2013. The company has processed the insurance claim as per coverage." CGPL's Chief Executive Officer K K Sharma attributed the cause of the fire to high calorific Indonesian, which he said was susceptible to spontaneous combustion.[36]

2014: Protests continue

An article in the Huffington Post described continued agitation against plant expansion:[37]

Earlier this month, Bharat Patel, general secretary of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) - or the Association for the Struggle for Fishworkers' Rights -- delivered over 24,000 signatures to President Kim during the World Bank spring meetings. The petitioners were calling on the IFC to recognize the mistakes it had made with Tata Mundra and put forward an action plan to address the lasting effects caused by the massive coal-burning power plant. Specifically, the petitioners demanded the World Bank: (1) Recognize the IFC policy violations and the serious impacts Tata Mundra has had on local communities, as confirmed by the CAO audit; (2) Develop a remedial action plan that has a clear timeline, specific targets, and measurable indicators to address restoration and reparation needs; (3) Withdraw IFC funding immediately from the Tata coal plant and rule out funding for project expansion.

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tata Power, "4000 MW Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) progressing on schedule", Media Release, March 9, 2012.
  2. "IFC to fund Tata's ultra mega power project", The Financial Express, October 11, 2007.
  3. "Tata Power's Mundra ultra mega power project starts operation", The Economic Times, January 9, 2012.
  4. Monthly Report on Broad Status of Thermal Power Projects in the Country, Central Electricity Authority, September 2012
  5. "No Greenlight for Expansion of IFC-Funded Tata Mundra Coal Plant," Compass, Sep 5, 2014.
  6. "Tata Mundra power project denied expansion clearance," The Hindu, Sep. 3, 2014.
  7. Tata Power, "Tata Power's Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project-Unit 1 achieves full load operation", Media Release, February 27, 2012.
  8. Tata Power, "Tata Power's generaton capacity crosses 6000 MW with synchronistion of 800 MW sized unit 2 of 4000 MW Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP)", Media Release, July 19, 2012.
  9. Tata Power, "Tata Power's Generaton Capacity Progresses to 6900 MM With Synchronistion of Unit 3 of 800 MW Capacity of 4000 MW Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project(UMPP)", Media Release, October 8, 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Tata Power, "Tata Power syncronises 5th 800 MW unit and makes the 1st UMPP 4000 MW at Mundra fully operational", Media Release, March 6, 2013.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Tata Mundra Project, Mundra, India: Frequently Asked Questions", International Finance Corporation website, accessed April 2010.
  12. "CAO Cases: India / Tata Ultra Mega-01/Mundra and Anjar," Complaint with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, June 14, 2011.
  13. "World Bank Group Ombudsman to Probe Tata Mundra Project" Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan Press Release, 2011.
  14. "Tata starts coal shipment for Mundra UMPP" Industrial Fuels and Power, September 26th, 2011.
  15. "The Tata Power Company Ltd", Tata Power, April 4, 2012.
  16. "World Bank Group Ombudsman to Probe Tata Mundra Project" Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan Press Release, 2011.
  17. "CAO Cases: India / Tata Ultra Mega-01/Mundra and Anjar," Complaint with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, June 14, 2011.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Tata Ultra Mega: Summary of Proposed Investment," International Finance Corporation website, accessed March 2008
  19. Maulik Pathak & Utpal Bhaskar, "Power buyers refuse to raise Mundra tariff", Livemint.com, March 5 2012.
  20. "CAO Cases: India / Tata Ultra Mega-01/Mundra and Anjar," Complaint with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, June 14, 2011.
  21. "World Bank Group Ombudsman to Probe Tata Mundra Project" Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan Press Release, 2011.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 International Finance Corporation, "Tata Ultra Mega: Summary of Proposed Investment: Development Impact", International Finance Corporation website, undated accessed June 2012.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Sarita C Singh, "Indonesian law to upset coal price equation", The Economic Times, June 22, 2011.
  24. Maulik Pathak & Utpal Bhaskar, "Power buyers refuse to raise Mundra tariff", Livemint.com, March 5 2012.
  25. Maulik Pathak , "Tata Power may be unable to challenge Indonesia’s decision", Livemint.com, April 3 2012.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Shyamal Majumdar & Katya Naidu, "It's an unfair, almost subprime-like situation: Anil Sardan,Interview with Managing Director, Tata Power", Business Standard, June 15, 2012.
  27. Sanjeev Choudhary, "UPDATE 1-India's Tata to shelve new imported-coal projects," Reuters, June 14, 2012
  28. Makarand Gadgil & Bhuma Shrivastava, "Tata Power explores Africa for coal and natural gas assets", Livemint.com, June 18, 2012.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Bhuma Shrivastava, "Tata Power restructures assets to placate lenders", Livemint.com, May 29, 2012.
  30. Anil Sardana, Managing Director Tata Power, S Ramakrishnan Executive Director Finance, Tata Power, S. Padamabhan Executive Director Operations, Tata Power, "Tata Power Limited Q4FY12 Results Conference Call", Tata Power, May 22, 2012.
  31. Piyush Pandey, "S&P downgrades Tata Power to negative", Times of India, July 9, 2012.
  32. "BRIEF-Moody's reviews Tata Power's Ba3 rating for downgrade", Reuters, June 21, 2012.
  33. "Moody`s reviews Tata Power`s Ba3 rating for downgrade", Myiris.com, June 21, 2012.
  34. "Moody's reviews Tata Power rating for possible downgrade", Economic Times, June 21, 2012.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Moody's, "Moody's downgrades Tata Power to B1; outlook stable", Media Release, October 5, 2012.
  36. "Highly volatile Indonesian coal caused fire at Mundra UMPP: Fire broken out at site of Mundra ultra mega power project on Nov 14, temporarily affecting electricity generation", Business Standard, December 29, 2013.
  37. Justin Guay and Nicole Ghio, "IFC Won't Support Expansion of Disastrous Tata Mundra Project," Huffington Post, May 1, 2014

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External resources

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