Pakistan and China agree on construction of Chashma 5

22 June 2023

Pakistan and China have signed an agreement for construction of a 1,200 MWe Hualong One (HPR1000) reactor at unit 5 of the Chashma NPP in Pakistan’s Punjab province. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) President Wang Yongge and Muhammad Saeedur Rehman from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU). Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was also present alongside Chinese Charge d’Affaires Pang Chunxue.

Following the ceremony, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told state-run news channel PTV that work on the project would begin immediately. "Investment from China in this project to the tune of $4.8bn sends a message loud and clear that Pakistan is a place where Chinese companies and investors continue to show their trust and faith," Sharif said. Pakistan is facing a serious balance of payments crisis, and Sharif thanked China for giving a discount on the cost.

It is unclear whether the new investment is part of the $65bn that China agreed for infrastructure building in Pakistan under its Belt and Road Initiative. The new project was originally planned to start some years ago, and Sharif thanked China for not rescheduling costs despite the long delay. Instead, he said, China had provided an initial PKR30bn ($104.53m) to start the project.

Sharif that the project was initially approved during the government of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, but was “put on hold” by the subsequent government. In November 2017, CNNC and PAEC had signed a cooperation agreement for Chashma 5. The project was originally planned to start around 2021.

The Chashma NPP already hosts four Chinese-supplied CNP-300 pressurised water reactors, which were connected to the grid between 2000 and 2017. In addition, two 1,161 MWe Chinese-supplied Hualong One reactors have been constructed as units 2&3 of the Karachi plant in Sindh province. Construction of unit 2 began in 2015 and unit 3 in 2016, starting commercial operation in May 2021 and April 2022.

Image: Pakistan and China signed the agreement during a ceremony in Islamabad (courtesy of PTV)

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