GPL’s submarine cable severed again

GPL’s submarine cable severed again

Despite assurances that precautionary measures would be taken to prevent a recurrence, the Guyana Power and Light’s (GPL) submarine cable across the Demerara River has been severed, this time by a ship’s anchor.

This has resulted in some outages and could put further pressure on the generating system with the Christmas holidays approaching. GPL and the government have been under pressure to tame continuing blackouts.

In a statement yesterday, GPL listed a series of problems the most prominent of which was the severed cable across the Demerara River which links the Vreed-en-Hoop and Kingston power plants.

It said that on Friday,  at approximately 7.08 am there was a fault on the 69kV Submarine Cable linking the Vreed-en-Hoop and  Kingston Power Plants resulting from suspected damage from a ship’s anchor. The cable was raised on Saturday at which time that damage was confirmed and it was discovered that the cable was completely severed.

As a result of this incident, services to  customers in regions 4, 5 and 6 were intermittently affected between Friday and yesterday. Efforts are currently underway in the Demerara River to determine the full extent of the damage to the submarine cable and what is needed to rectify the problem.

Following last year’s similar maritime accident, the statement yesterday said that GPL initiated several measures in tandem with Maritime Administra-tion Department (MARAD) to avoid a recurrence.

These included:  1. A survey to determine and plot the location of the cable in the Demerara River and the updating of maritime charts including the position of the submarine cable; 2. Publication of maritime notices indicating the boundaries of the submarine cable; and 3. The placement of warning signs and hazard lights at both ends of the cable.

These measures seem to have failed.

GPL said it has implemented a number of measures to prevent prolonged service interruptions when the 69 kV cable is disrupted. These measures have resulted in the avoidance of widespread load shedding. They include:

The installation of a new 13.8kV Submarine Cable from Vreed-en-Hoop to Princes Street, which is being utilized to transfer  power from the Vreed-en-Hoop Power Plant to the eastern side of the Demerara-Berbice Inter-connected System (DBIS) via an alternative route;

Installation of the new express feeder from Vreed-en-Hoop to Vriesland which facilitates the utilization of the cable from  Vriesland to Craig as an additional alternative route;

Installation of additional generating capacity in Berbice to make that area more self-sufficient;

Importation of approximately 4MW from Gift-land Mall.

Notwithstanding GPL’s efforts, the statement said that the risk of short term outages has increased as the two systems are operating without the 69 kV interconnection. GPL said that these risks will be further addressed with implementation of GPL’s medium term plans, including:

Installation of an additional 10 MW of generating capacity by December 15, 2020;

Construction of the new 46.5MW at Garden-of-Eden by April 2021;

Further improvements in the transmission and distribution system to build redundancy at the 69 kV and 13.8 kV levels.

GPL said it is working to expedite the repairs to the 69 kV cable. The statement said that GPL had bought extra repair kits for the cable and now have these in stock. These previously took months to manufacture as they are not stocked by suppliers.

“We wish to assure our valued customers that the company is working assiduously to provide reliable supply for the upcoming festive season and beyond. GPL remains committed to providing a stable supply of electricity service to our valued customers and apologizes for any inconvenience caused”, the statement said.

System disturbance

Meanwhile, the statement said that the DBIS yesterday experienced a system disturbance at approximately 10:32 am due to a fault at the Kingston Power Plant. This resulted in service interruptions to customers within the DBIS with the exception of customers on the West Bank and West Coast of Demerara.

Restoration efforts started around noon with the last area being repowered around 5 pm.

In a separate incident yesterday, around 5 pm, customers within Kitty and environs experienced an outage to facilitate a paratrooping exercise by the Guyana Defence Force. These customers were repowered at 5.26 pm. Also, customers along the East Bank Demerara corridor between Houston to Nandy Park suffered a service interruption to facilitate an emergency outage and were repowered at 5.33 pm.

GPL’s submarine cable was restored on October 26, 2019 after it was damaged by ships in June and August that year.

Repairs were done by China National Machinery Import & Export Corpora-tion (CMC), the company that laid the cable in 2012. Repairs to the cable were delayed due to the discovery of the additional damage in August, which required more diagnosis and testing. Repair kits were subsequently manufactured and shipped to Guyana. Following the arrival of the kits, the contractor, CMC  commenced work to retrieve and repair the compromised sections of the cable, approximately 0.7 and 0.8 km offshore the Kingston Power Plant.

GPL had said that as a preventative measure, the cable would be reburied in the Demerara River to a depth of approximately 15 feet.

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