Guyana to import ‘skilled technical personnel’ for electricity sector – Pres. Ali

– as deal for 36MW power ship finalised

In light of challenges in securing much-needed technical personnel for the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Incorporated, the Government of Guyana will be outsourcing at least 10 highly-skilled technicians from Cuba.
This was announced by President Dr Irfaan Ali on Friday evening, during a live broadcast to update the public on the issues facing the state-run power company and the interventions being undertaken by the Government to remedy the situation.
According to the Head of State, there is a need to strengthen the management capacity and capability of the power sector. Additionally, he noted that there is a severe skills deficit at the technical level.
Last week he noted that the technical support for GPL could be imported, since the power company was having difficulties in filling these positions locally. Consequently, President Ali on Friday stated that steps are being taken to increase the technical capacity of GPL by recruiting an additional 10 engineers with the relevant skills to enhance the electricity sector.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

“Now, we have gone out many times to procure the services of Guyanese engineers, and we have not been successful because of the demand for engineers in other areas. So, we are working [on this]. For example, I just concluded meetings with the Cuban Ambassador [to Guyana, Jorge Francisco Soberón Luis]. They have very skilled technical personnel who they are willing to deploy [to Guyana] immediately to work in the system and to help us technically,” Dr Ali disclosed.
For the past few weeks, Guyana has been enduring a heightened spate of blackouts following what the GPL had described as engine failures at different locations. At least two engines are currently down. At a meeting with senior management of the power sector, President Ali read the Riot Act to the top brass of GPL, and also had strong words for officials from Wartsilla and the Power Producers and Distributors Incorporated (PPDI) – the two companies that play integral roles in generating the country’s power.
On the sidelines of an event last week, the Guyanese Leader ruled out a shake-up of the management at GPL, but noted that tremendous technical support would be retained to ensure adequate and effective power supply from the state-run entity.
Meanwhile, with its current challenges, GPL is now generating some 165 megawatts of power. However, the current peak demand for electricity is at 180 megawatts.
The Government has blamed the issues at the state-owned power company on several issues, ranging from aged infrastructure and systems to lack of maintenance, to human resource gap, and the growing electricity demand coupled with public destruction of the entity’s transmission utilities.

One of the floating power vessels that are operated by the Turkish-based Karpowershi

Power ship agreement
Some interventions have been undertaken by the Ali-led People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration to alleviate the worsening electricity woes of the country. One such initiative is the procurement of an additional 36 megawatts of power for the national grid to offset generation shortfalls. This deal is with UCC Holding, a subsidiary of Qatari-based conglomerate Power International Holding.
“I wish to announce that today, the Government, through the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated, conducted a Time Charter Agreement with UCC Holding for a power ship to be deployed to Guyana within three weeks,” President Ali announced.
“This facility involves the chartering of a power supply vessel that will be connected to the DBIS (Demerara Berbice Interconnected System) at Everton in Berbice to provide timely support to the generation capacity of GPL and relief for consumers connected to the DBIS grid. The vessel will be chartered for 24 months from the date of commencement of the agreement. This power arrangement is being obtained at a very competitive cost. It will cover the charter costs of the vessel, including its generating engines as well as operations and maintenance costs,” President Ali stated.

While Guyana signed the agreement with UCC Holding – a Qatari-based international Energy, Concession, and Construction company, the floating power plant vessel is owned by Turkish-based Karpowership, which operates a fleet of ships that generate electricity. These two companies have a ‘strategic alliance’ for the Latin America Region, with operations in Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
The finalisation of this power deal now paves the way for the deployment of the floating power plant, which is expected to be installed within three weeks.
According to President Ali, works are currently being undertaken locally to prepare the infrastructure to connect the power ship to the national grid.
“Within 15 days, we could have a power ship coming in here ready to be connected to the grid. So, the next 14 days, we’re working on ensuring that all the infrastructure is in place to accept that power – more than 36 megawatts… [that] is immediately going to be placed in the system,” the Head of State added during his broadcast.
This deal for emergency power to supplement GPL’s generating capacity has been led by a ministerial group comprising Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, S.C, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar – which was established to look into the current wave of power instability across the country.
During his weekly press conference on Thursday, VP Jagdeo disclosed that Government was considering bringing in a vessel with a larger generating capacity – more than 70 MW – but GPL’s current infrastructure would not have supported such a massive injection of power into the national grid.
For example, he pointed out that the transmission main at the Kingston Power Plant cannot accommodate the addition of power, not even the 36 MW, since it can only transmit power generated at that facility.
“So, we wouldn’t be able to produce there because the transmission main can only move the Kingston power. So, this is why we’re looking at bringing it into the Berbice River at Everton. That way, we’d be able to dispatch the power [onto the national grid]…
“We had to look at the river, the depth of the river, the connection to the existing grid; that has been done, and the type of fuel (to be used),” the Vice President stated.
When it comes to the cost of this deal, Jagdeo explained that Guyana would only be paying for the equipment and the operation of the power ship, which amounts to some eight cents per kilowatt/hour (kwh).
“There is a capacity charge and an O&M (operate and manage) charge; combined, that’s less than 8 cents per kWh, but then we supply the fuel…So, they will supply the equipment and operate it, and we will supply the fuel,” he noted.
According to the Vice President, Government had previously received a proposal from this company, but that deal was for a longer period than the two-year that has been agreed upon in the current contract.
Nevertheless, this latest intervention by the Government would support the state-owned GPL until the operationalisation of the Government’s model Gas-to-Energy project, which features a 300MW power plant at Wales on the West Bank of Demerara utilising natural gas from the oil production activities offshore Guyana. (G-8)