Power plant shutdown: Wärtsilä will be held accountable – Pres Ali

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Prime Minister Mark Phillips along with GPL CEO Bharrat Dindyal and other officials at the Garden of Eden power plant on Friday

…as Govt reviews contract

Government will be reviewing the Wärtsilä contract with the intention of instituting possible penalties, days after the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) was forced to shut down the Garden of Eden power plant for an emergency mechanical inspection.

The East Bank Demerara (EBD) facility was shut down on Friday to facilitate the assessment. Finland-based Wärtsilä is running and operating the $10 billion state-of-the-art dual-fuel power plant. But the operation and maintenance (O&M) agreement also caters for the Wärtsilä technical team to train local personnel.

Commenting on the situation on Saturday, President Irfaan Ali told the media that it has been monitored continuously. Attorney General Anil Nandlall has since been instructed to review the contract with Wärtsilä, especially the operation and maintenance agreement.

“We have been monitoring this all night, and I’ve asked already the Attorney General and GPL to look into the contract with Wärtsilä because they have an O&M contract also, to see whether you’re supposed to have X number of human resource capability on the ground, and if that is not there, why? So, we are going to hold Wärtsilä accountable,” the Head of State outlined.

Initial reports are that heavy fuel, which is being used at the plant, was getting into the exhaust system. This prompted officials to shut down the five Wärtsilä generators, which started operating late last year. Officials had feared that if the fuel accumulates in the turbocharger, it could result in a “big explosion” with the chance of fatalities.

President Ali has asserted that his Administration will ensure that contractors are held accountable for the work they produce. Along with fixing the issue, penalties are being explored.

“Whether you’re an international contractor, a regional contractor or a local contractor, I’ve made it very clear: you will be held accountable for the work you do in this country. So, they have to fix it, and they have to get it, get it up and running. And also, I asked the AG, first in every new contract, there must be a clause for damages.”

President Dr Irfaan Ali

The Head of State added, “I’ve asked him to examine this contract and to see whether there are penalties when you have shut down because if you have an O&M contract, there must be performance indicators. If there are performance indicators that are not met or you have shut down like these that are not supposed to be like the way it is, if you are continuously managing the operations and maintaining the operation or if there was an issue that they had at installation, which they still have responsibility for, all of that has to be examined in the context of the contract and once there are penalties, the penalties have to be applied.”

After the shutdown, Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar told Guyana Times that, with these generators down, there will be some strain on the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS). A shutdown of this magnitude would result in 46.5 megawatts being taken off the grid.

 

GPL, in a notice, had also indicated that the unavailability of 46.5MW will impact the available generation capacity within the DBIS and result in load-shedding in some areas. However, the company said its engineers will continue to review the company’s available generation capacity against the projected demand over the coming days to determine whether further load-shedding will be required.

The highly efficient Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engines, which can utilise heavy fuel oil and natural gas simultaneously, has a capacity of 9.3MW each.

Only last July, however, there was an explosion at the one of the transformers at the old Garden of Eden plant. GPL had explained that a 16.7 MVA transformer at the EBD facility caught on fire resulting in all power generating units at that site shutting down. The loss of the plant’s 27MW caused a cascading effect, disrupting service to customers on the DBIS.