Study to assess feasibility of coal-based power generation in Oman

By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT: April 16 – Clarity on the potential use of coal as an alternative fuel resource in the generation of electricity in the Sultanate will emerge by around the end of this year, according to a top official of the Sultanate’s power procurement utility. Yaqoob bin Saif al Kiyumi (pictured), Acting CEO of Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the sole procurer of new power generation and related water desalination capacity, said a comprehensive study will help ascertain the feasibility of coal as a potential fuel resource for power generation in the Sultanate.
985494Last week, the wholly government owned utility — part of the Nama Group (The Electricity Holding Company) —  issued a Request for Proposals (RfP) inviting qualified international consultants to bid for its contract to provide Financial & Commercial Advisory Services linked to the potential development of a coal-based Independent Power Project (IPP).  Interested parties have until today, April 17, 2017, to purchase tender documents for the consultancy contract, with the deadline for submission of bids slated for May 7, 2017. According to Al Kiyumi, however, the RfP does not as yet represent an affirmation of the government’s decision to pursue coal-based power generation.
“There isn’t a policy decision taken so far in this regard, but (this RfP) is part of our normal work to prepare ourselves for any potential diversification of energy sources in Oman. So (a coal-based IPP) is not a confirmed project yet; what we are looking at is a feasibility study to prepare ourselves for diversification of energy sources.”
Speaking to the Observer, Al Kiyumi said the study will weigh a wide spectrum of issues related to coal-based power generation.  “The study will look at possible locations, capacity, social and environmental factors and the overall project economics.  It will also consider technologies and the bankability of the project.”
Asked to provide a timeframe for the implementation of a potential coal-based IPP in the Sultanate, the Acting CEO stated: “This will depend on a policy decision on coal. Typically, a coal project takes anything between 8 – 10 years, between the study part and its coming into operation, because it depends on a lot of factors.”
Likewise, the choice of location for the establishment of a coal-based plant will be dictated by many factors, notably the availability of port infrastructure, access to the transmission grid, and so on.
A clearer picture on a potential role for coal in power generation will emerge by the end of this year, he added. According to the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER — Oman), coal is one of many energy sources that the Omani government is looking at as part of a long-range Strategic National Energy Policy covering the period through to 2040. As natural gas is a finite resource, the government is keen to see a diverse fuel mix contributing to the nation’s energy needs.