Dec 02, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – Following severe damage to its 69kV submarine cable, the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) has turned to North America for assistance in repairing those damage. These and other details were revealed to Kaieteur News by Bharat Harjohn, Director of Operations of the state-owned company.
Bharat told this publication yesterday that due to the traveling restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, GPL could not source engineers and repair kits from China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation (CNMIEC), the company that laid the cable in 2012. Hence, GPL has now sought the assistance from the United States and Canada, who are expected to respond to their request by the end of this week.
This submarine cable was part of a US$40M project to build new transmission lines, seven new sub-stations and two submarine cables – one each across the Demerara River and Berbice River. In June and August of 2019, this cable had sustained damage at two locations by the anchors of vessels traversing the Demerara River.
The crippling of that submarine cable had left the inter-connected Demerara and Berbice system shaky, as almost 15 megawatts of power available in the West Demerara area was unable to be shared to East Demerara and Berbice systems. It had left thousands of consumers without power after scheduled blackouts were implemented, as critics had blamed the poor laying of the cable on the river for the troubles.
Against this and the cable’s most recent severing, GPL yesterday held a meeting with the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) on measures to prevent a third occurrence of vessels damaging the 69kV cable.
The decisive solution between the two agencies would be to bury the cable to a suitable depth to cater for an “ultimate channel” draught of 10 meters. To achieve this, GPL highlighted, it would require suitable dredging equipment capable of not only operating to the required depth but to be able to cut the hard clay that is being encountered in the channel. Unfortunately, it was noted that suitable dredging equipment is not available locally.
Notwithstanding this, GPL has agreed with MARAD on additional measures to police the cable until it is permanently and fully secured. To this, MARAD has agreed to the several short-term preventative measures, the first three, of which, would be done immediately.
The first measure is to create an additional 200m buffer zone on either side of the cable crossing and to publish the necessary notification to mariners. This should enable additional time for intervention should a vessel break its moorings.
Secondly, they would reinforce the existing regulation on bridge watch, as vessels moored at the assigned mooring points are required to have an officer on watch continuously.
Thirdly, GPL indicated that it will be incorporated into the policing loop utilizing its around the clock security presence at Kingston that overlooks the cable crossing. Relevant information will be shared with GPL’s security personnel via radio and telephone to facilitate this endeavour, it said.
And lastly, tugs will be engaged that can intervene should a vessel require assistance. This initiative would not be implemented immediately but eventually and would serve multiple purposes.
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