Tender for RO 300m North-South Interconnect project likely before year-end

MUSCAT:  A tender for the execution of Phase 1 of the North-South Interconnect Project – an ambitious initiative to integrate the nation’s two main power grids as well as incorporate Oman’s new economic powerhouse in Duqm into a unified network – is expected to be floated before the end of this year, according to a key project official.

Eng Ali bin Said al Haddabi (pictured), CEO of Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC), which is a key player in the strategically vital power infrastructure project, said the initiative – estimated to cost around RO 300 million – already has the backing of key stakeholders, including the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman (AER), Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and Nama Group, the holding company of state-owned power procurement, generation, transmission, distribution and supply entities.

“The Economic Feasibility Study of the North-South Interconnect Project has been completed, and we are now ready for its implementation,” said Al Haddabi. “Implementation will be done in phases, with the first phase focusing on adding Duqm to the integrated system. Other sections will follow.”

Speaking exclusively to the Observer, the official described the North-South Interconnect Project as a new “backbone” that will link the Main Interconnected System (MIS) covering the northern half of Oman with the Dhofar Power System (DPS) in the south.  This backbone will also interconnect with PDO’s network in the oilfield heartland of the country, and will extend onward to Duqm where a major industrial and economic hub is under development.

“The goal is to build a 400 KV system extending 900 kilometres from the northern grid up to Salalah, crossing the PDO concession area and covering Duqm as well.  This backbone system will not only connect all of the power plants in operation but also support the load across the network.  Additionally, it will allow for new solar and wind power projects (established in far-flung corners of the country) to be connected to the integrated system.  Furthermore, with an interconnected system, we will need only one unified spinning reserve for the country – advantages that will result in economic benefits for Oman,” the CEO said.

Nama Group member OETC, which owns and operates the North and South grids, is working very hard to have all of the key stakeholders fully on board in ensuring the smooth and timely delivery of this landmark project, said Al Haddabi.

“We hope, if all goes well, to float the first tender for the overhead line extending to Duqm before the end of this year,” the official said, pointing out that the 400KV system will run on transmission pylons.  Implementation is planned over a five-year timeframe, he stated.

According to the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), also a Nama Group member, the Main Interconnected System (MIS) is presently connected with the PDO power system at Nizwa via a single 132 kV link with a nominal transfer capacity of around 60 MW.

“The main purpose of this interconnect is to support reserve sharing between the MIS and the PDO system. OPWP, OETC and PDO have agreed to build a new 400 KV transmission interconnect at Nahada, with secure transfer capacity in excess of 1000 MW. This will enable substantial coordination of operations and capacity planning, providing efficiency benefits to the Sultanate,” OPWP explained in its latest 7-Year Statement issued last week.

“Extension of the North-South 400 kV Interconnect to the Dhofar Power System (DPS) may also occur by 2024, subject to final regulatory approval, providing for greater grid security and improved utilization of generation resources,” OPWP added.