Sunday 15 December, 2019

Fuel quality compounds Light and Power outage headaches

Managing Director for the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BLPC), Roger Blackman (FILE)

Managing Director for the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BLPC), Roger Blackman (FILE)

Contamination of the heavy fuel oil used to produce electricity in Barbados, along with equipment failures are being pinpointed as the sources of the island's two-day power outages.

Related Article

In a statement, the Managing Director for the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BLPC), Roger Blackman apologised for the outages which impacted all aspects of Barbadians' lives, and he explained the underlying causes of the issues, asserting that investigations are ongoing.

Blackman said:

"We recognise that this affects our nation’s productivity and ability to serve your own customers and clients. For this, we sincerely apologise and wish to assure you that we are taking this very seriously...

"BLPC uses Heavy Fuel Oil to produce electricity to meet the needs of our customers. At present, we are experiencing a Heavy Fuel Oil quality issue, which has been plaguing us for an extended period. The presence of contaminants detected in the Heavy Fuel Oil is the main cause of the challenges we are experiencing.

"The outage events which occurred this week are extraordinary events originating with a switch failure in one of our Spring Garden substations, and during that restoration process, a second event occurred on Tuesday morning with a fault on one of our generating units. In both cases system protection response is being investigated."

Disclosing that the equipment malfunction was not the sole reason for the service disruption, he went on to stress that the company believs the fuel being utilised is responsible to some extent as well.

"Over the past few months, to compound the restoration and supply issues, we have been investigating oil quality issues which are prematurely damaging equipment used to feed oil to our generating units. At present, generating units that we would normally rely on to supply electricity demand have periodically been shutting down due to the fuel issues and this has slowed the pace of restoration."

BLPC working on long-term solution

Going forward, Blackman in the statement pledged that the BLPC will work with their fuel supplier and other stakeholders to hone in upon the specific cause and source of potential contamination from their suppliers, which is ongoing.

'We have been staying ahead of these issues while we completed other maintenance and repairs to the remainder of our generating fleet, however, this week highlighted the challenge we have been working through to prevent such an event from occurring.

'We wish to thank you for your patience, support and encouraging words as we work through this period. We are meeting with the Prime Minister, other Government officials and the Barbados Water Authority this evening to give a comprehensive update and to provide an update on our status and plans going forward to resolve our challenges. We will of course keep you updated of any significant changes as things evolve.'

The Chairman of the BLPC Board Rick Janega from Emera was on island to partake in the emergency meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley and members of her Cabinet.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: