PACRA Upgrades Entity Ratings of ThalNova Power Thar (Pvt) Limited
ThalNova Power Thar (Pvt) Limited (“the Company”) has set up a 1x330 (gross) mine mouth Thar coal-based power plant located at Block – II, Thar Coalfield, District Tharparkar, Sindh. The Hub Power Company Limited (HUBCO) holds significant stake of 38% in the Company. The upgrade not only depicts the commissioning of the plant but also the fact that the plant is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and is fueled by coal extracted from Thar Block-II by the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company. Being on local coal the plant reduces dependence on imported fuels and resultantly positively affects the overall basket price of the electricity generated. The plant is prioritized in the merit order list by NTDC, which also translates into the assigned ratings. Additionally, the plant efficiency and utilization factor are high. Previously, the evacuation issue from the Thar Block, now stands resolved by NTDC, as a result the plant is supplying uninterrupted electricity to the National Grid, which further provides comfort. Furthermore, the financial strength and experience in the energy chain of the sponsoring companies validates the upgrade. ThalNova has been awarded an upfront tariff, with the payments to be received from CPPA-G backed by the sovereign guarantee. The plant successfully achieved its Commercial Operations (COD) on 17th February 2023 while its Required Commercial Operations Date (RCOD) was in June 2022. The Company has applied for extension in the RCOD otherwise they will be liable to pay LDs to CPPAG. In accordance with the agreement, Hub Power Services Limited (HPSL) an associated company will provide Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services for the plant. The O&M contractor will be responsible for maintaining the operational benchmarks (Availability: 85%, Efficiency: 37%). During FY23, the plant generated net electrical output of 758GWh while maintaining its operational benchmarks. The project debt will be repaid over a period of 10 years with repayment starting in FY24. The smooth operations of the plant since its COD and timely payment of the debt is also an added consideration to the ratings. The plant is expected to receive payments from CPPA-G on a priority basis considering its importance to the energy sector. Currently the working capital requirements are managed through mix of internal cash generation and short-term borrowings from the banks. However, as per rising operational needs, the Company plans on procuring further working capital financing in the near future, is in pipeline.
Going forward, the capacity of the Company to generate stable cash flows in order to make timely repayments against the project debt remains crucial. Further, with rising concerns about circular debt, the trend of payments received from CPPA-G against invoices and any, regulatory changes might impact ratings.
ThalNova Power Thar (Pvt.) Limited was incorporated in Pakistan on April 18, 2016 as a limited company under the repealed Companies Ordinance, 1984. The 330MW coal IPP is being constructed in the energy park located in Block II of the Thar coalfields in Sindh. Mr. Saleemullah Memon is the CEO of the company. Mr. Memon has over twenty years of experience in the energy and manufacturing sector. Mr. Memon holds an MBA in Finance. The total cost of the project is USD 527mln, debt financing constitutes 75% of the project cost i.e., USD 395mln, which is financed from local and foreign financial institutions.