Oman weighs 3,000 MW of clean coal power by 2025

MUSCAT, MAY 5 – Bucking the global downtrend in coal-based power generation, Oman is looking at developing up to 3,000 megawatts (MW) of power generation capacity based on clean coal technology by 2024 — a move dictated by the need to diversify the Sultanate’s fuel resource base and thereby secure the nation’s long-term energy requirements. The procurement process for the first block of around 1,200 MW of coal-based generation capacity has already commenced and is due to come on stream by 2024. The balance 1,800 MW will be operational around a year later, according to an official of Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the sole offtaker of electricity and water output under the sector law.

Brian Wood (pictured) — Planning & Economics Director, said the clean coal based Independent Power Project (IPP) will be located in Duqm, where the government is developing one of the region’s biggest Special Economic Zones (SEZ). Speaking at a conference on Energy & Water, organised by Oman Expo, last week, Wood said the new coal- based capacity — a first for Oman’s energy sector — is part of a plan to “secure supply to enable the rapid development of the new industrial hub in Duqm”. “We already have an approval from the regulator (The Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman) to issue the RfQ (Request for Qualifications), before a Request for Proposals (RfP) is released in the third quarter of this year, around October. So there is time to think about the project before we finally come into in around October,” the official stated.

A large number of international developers of coal-based power generation capacity are expected to register their interest to participate in the competitive process for the Duqm IPP before OPWP’s deadline for the submission of technical qualifications on June 7, 2018. Surplus power from the proposed plant could potentially be evacuated from Duqm into the Main Interconnected System (MIS) serving the northern half of Oman via a new interconnection system that, if given the green-light by authorities, will help connect Duqm with the northern grid. The interconnection initiative is currently the subject of an intensive study.

Duqm is presently served by a small 67 MW capacity diesel-powered station operated by the Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAECO), a member of Nama Group (formerly The Electricity Holding Company). This capacity is proposed to be gradually ramped up via investments planned by RAECO and Marafiq — a subsidiary of Oman Oil Company — before the first block of the new coal-based IPP is brought into operation in 2024. Once given the regulator’s thumbs-up, coal will be added to a broadening mix of fuel resources — which includes renewables — being tapped by the Sultanate to secure its electricity needs.

Conrad Prabhu