Critical transmission projects to face further delays due to new travel ban

As the country puts in place a travel ban to prevent the entry of the new COVID-19 strain, power transmission operator NGCP raises concerns on further delays on the completion of critical projects meant for the improvement of the power grid.

Nexans’ cable laying vessel, Nexans Skagerrak has been contracted to installl two lengths of 92 kilometer submarines cable to link the Visayas and Mindanao power grids. (4COffshore).

The submarine cable laying activity for the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project, for example, faces new delays with the vessel carrying the said transmission equipment unable to enter the country due to the travel ban.

National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) earlier launched the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) in 2018 when it  simultaneously broke ground on the project’s cable terminal stations in the Municipality of Santander, Cebu, and Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.

NGCP managers pose with the local government of Dapitan during the groundbreaking ceremony of the company’s cable terminal station in Zamboanga del Norte on 2018. (NGCP)

The cable terminal stations serve as the landing points of the two 92-kilometer submarine cables which will carry around 450 megawatts (MW) of power from the Visayas and Mindanao, and vice versa. 

The MVIP, provisionally approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission on 2017, is considered the biggest power infrastructure project in the history of the country. Apart from the submarine cables and cable terminal stations, the P52 billion-project also entails the installation of 526 circuit-kilometers of overhead transmission lines, high-voltage direct current converter stations, and various upgrades to substations in both regions. 

In May 2018, the Department of Energy certified the MVIP as an Energy Project of National Significance, in order to streamline and expedite the needed documents for the construction and completion of the project. 

Nexans’ cable laying vessel, Nexans Skagerrak was earlier reportedly  heading towards Philippines to install  two lengths of 92-kilometer submarine cables to link the Visayas and Mindanao grids.

To optimize the delivery of the submarine cabling system for the MVIP, Nexans will leverage on its global manufacturing footprint. The 350 kV high voltage direct current mass-impregnated (MI) submarine cable will be manufactured in Nexans’ Nippon High Voltage Cable Corporation plant in Futtsu, Japan as well as in Nexans Norway plant in Halden. The installation and protection works at water depths up to 650 meters will be performed by Nexans’ own specialized cable-laying vessel C/S Nexans Skagerrak.

The project was scheduled to complete by the end of November 2020 but now faces further delays due to the new travel ban imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Infectious Diseases.

At the completion of the proposed link, all three major Philippine islands would have been integrated as one grid and ensure the sharing of energy sources across the network.

NGCP is seeking the government’s consideration to allow its suppliers, as well as shipments of essential transmission equipment, to enter the country, while observing all safety protocols and strict compliance to health standards.

“NGCP understands the need to control the virus and prevent the new strain from affecting our people, but there must also be creative ways in place to balance health concerns with the need to keep the economy afloat. NGCP’s critical projects cannot face any further delays as this may have an implication on the stability and reliability of power transmission services, especially with the growing demand for power. We hope this will also be taken into consideration,” said NGCP.

NGCP is a Filipino-led, privately owned company in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid, led by majority shareholders and Vice Chairman of the Board Henry Sy, Jr. and Co-Vice Chairman Robert Coyiuto, Jr. (with reports from 4C Offshore & Transmission and Distribution World).

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