Wholly government-owned Majan Electricity Company (MJEC), member of Nama Group, registered an unprecedented 1.6 per cent decline in peak load demand in its jurisdiction last year, reversing over 15 years of steady demand growth ranging from 1.2 to 12 per cent annually.
The dip, coinciding with a prolonged spell of pandemic-induced lockdowns and other economic-related impacts, is however unlikely to forestall a strong uptick in electricity demand growth forecast around Sohar Port and Freezone and other parts of North Al Batinah Governorate.
With a supply license covering around 50,744 sq kilometres of north-western Oman, MJEC’s sprawling remit includes Al Dhahirah Governorate, Al Buraimi Governorate and North Al Batinah Governorate. Of these areas, North Al Batinah — with its port, free zone and industrial city, among other load centres — is expected to drive new power demand growth as well as sizable network expansion, the company said.
According to MJEC’s newly published 3-year Capability Statement, spanning the 2021 – 2023 timeframe, peak demand declined 1.6 per cent to 1334.0 megawatts (MW) in 2020 — for the first time since the company was established in 2005. It attributed the slump to the countrywide lockdown imposed by authorities primarily on commercial and industrial activities right up to mid-August 2020.
“Although Al Dhahirah Governorate faced a slight growth increase (3.7 per cent), a major decrease occurred in Al Buraimi (-9.2 per cent) and North Al Batinah (-1.6 per cent) governorates. Clearly, Al Batinah North and Al Buraimi Governorates were affected by the closing of commercial and industrial activities, which led to load decreasing comparing to the 2019 peak load. The majority of load in Al Dhahirah Governorate is residential load.
With the lockdown, people were forced to stay at home, which lead to increasing residential power consumption,” MJEC explained.
Notwithstanding the downturn, power demand is forecast to grow over the next three years to 1500.1 MW by 2023 in the base scenario, up from 1334.0 in 2020.
In the high scenario, demand is forecast to jump to 1592.7 MW, according to the report. Some of this growth will come from new industrial and manufacturing projects under development at Sohar Port and Freezone, focusing on mineral processing, alloy wheel manufacturing, textile, tile and paper manufacturing.
Elsewhere within North Al Batinah Governorate, a further uptick in demand is anticipated from a number of civil, infrastructure, housing, residential, commercial, retail, industrial and manufacturing projects in various stages of implementation.
The list includes new facilities for healthcare, water distribution infrastructure, Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Defence, building materials plants, and other ventures.
Industrial and commercial investments in Al Buraimi are also expected to contribute to some demand growth over the 2021-2023 timeframe, the company added.