Oman Electricity Transmission Company turns potential challenges into opportunities
The Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) has planned an investment program worth an estimated 750 million Omani Rials (OMR) over the next 15 years, to support its 2030 vision that aims to expand infrastructure to meet increasing customer demand.
As part of the new long-term national planning, the company will complete turnkey engineering, procurement and construction projects as part of the multi-million Rial investment, following on from the OMR100 million invested to enhance operations last year.
Dr. Adil Al-Busaidi, Asset Management and Planning Manager at OETC, said: “As a company we faced an average of 9 percent growth annually over the last decade and that is a lot of effort in terms of planning. Currently we have a load demand of around 5GW and we expect that to be in the range of 16GW in 2030 so investment is essential if we are to provide over three times the existing demand.
“Each year we work to increase our capability so we can help deliver more projects, such as the OMR120 million infrastructure works to evacuate the power from the power plants in Ibri and Sohar. Increasing our project delivery capability is essential in order to turn the high demand growth risk into investment opportunities. Basically, we need to engage more contractors, consultants and manufacturers in order to achieve that as well as enhancing our own investment management capabilities.
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“We used to operate high voltages of 132kV and 220kV but now we’re embarking on the construction of 400kV transmission system assets as it allows us to have more output capacity. As part of our vision we will be busy to complete the 400KV backbone for the whole of Oman. We have a vision to have one 400KV linking the North and South and the interior parts, so we will have one strong grid and solid infrastructure appearing over the next few years. We want to support overall growth within the country as best we can.”
OETC was established on 1 May 2005 and it is responsible for the building and operating of the transmission network in Oman, and is the licensees under the authority of Government of Oman. It is also in charge of despatching and controlling the overall generation and output of electricity in the country.
In January 2014 OETC took control of the transmission network in the south of Oman, which had previously been operated by a different system operator. As a result the firm had full control of the country’s electricity transmission and a significant platform to build on.
Eng Ali Al-Hadabi, CEO of Oman Electricity Transmission Company, said: “We are also responsible for the international connection to a number of GCC countries and its authorities, this is done through Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Meanwhile we have a number of high-profile corporate customers in Oman connected to the high voltage network; the major Omani airports, industrial customers such as steel and aluminium factories, and the Oman Petroleum Company to name a few.”
“Because we are experiencing a lot of growth in OETC and the country as a whole, we need to maintain the same sort of growth in the network to handle the load increase and ensure we all flourish.”
OETC has also made sure all IT systems have been upgraded to help drive continuous improvement and support the national controlling and communication link to the national network.
Al-Hadabi and Al-Busaidi both stressed the need for new ways to strategically deliver projects, because despite the heavy investment throughout the group, if the assets are not managed correctly then it will not have the desired impact on operations.
Al-Hadabi said: “In the last two or three years we have established a strong asset management structure. We do depend on outsourcing a small amount for things like consultancy who supervise our work and make sure we carry on looking after the projects that are coming our way.
“This new strategy will really help us to see the requirement of all departments and see the lifecycle of our assets. This relates back to our investment program where we are ensuring there is a sufficient support network in place.
“We would also like to emphasise the value we place on our excellent staff and engineers. We take them through rigorous and high-quality training which allows them to look after what we are targeting. We encourage all our engineers to go for extra qualifications and support them; a fulfilled worker is much better equipped to help us achieve our business objectives.”
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More than 92 percent of the company’s employees are Omani nationals and most are trained in multiple disciplines. “We want this trend to continue because we believe in the young talent in this country, and hope they will want to work for an employer like OETC. We also want to limit the amount of outsource activity to certain niche tasks that physically cannot be done in-house; everything else should be done in-house going forward. With this in mind, staff numbers are expected to increase in the coming years.” added Al-Hadabi. OETC has made a successful habit out of building fruitful partner relationships with local service providers and contractors too, and this has further helped maintenance and delivery.
The company management team sees the main challenge going forward as the ongoing efforts to improve the national grid infrastructure. Building a transmission network with high voltages of 400KV is a sizeable job, in terms of implementing new overhead lines, underground cables and evacuating the power from the new generation stations.
While this is being carried out all network corridors need to remain available at all times as it is important OETC maintains a reliable service to the customer with no deviation in quality or availability.
Al-Hadabi concluded: “We need to execute all these new lines and substations with minimum to the end users, our valued customers, and this is something we are taking very seriously with the governmental authorities and that is the main challenge I can see, we need to tackle that to get the right corridors and build a service fit for the future.
“We are always benchmarking ourselves against the best transmission companies across the world and we try to be constantly challenging ourselves to be the best utilities firm we can be. When we do reports based on our three pillars of reliability, availability and quality we always find the results to be acceptable. But we must not be complacent and stand still.
“We have high standards and have put a big level of expectation of ourselves, and we challenge our employees to make sure we deliver on that expectation.”
With such commitment to its staff, coupled with significant investment plans, the Oman Electricity Transmission Company looks set to bring about further prosperity for itself and facilitate growth for the country’s economy.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.