Oman Starts Power Plant as Part of New Energy Development

Oman recently began operating a Wärtsilä-built power plant in the northern part of the country, part of more than $1 billion in power and energy projects being developed in the Arab nation. The Musandam Independent Power Project (IPP) is a 120-MW natural gas-fired plant (Figure 1) that can use light fuel oil as a secondary fuel. It is the first plant to be inaugurated as part of the Musandam Power Company (MPC), a consortium of Oman Oil Company (OOC)—which holds 70% of MPC shares—and LG International Corporation, a South Korean energy supplier and developer. The MPC was created to encourage energy-related development in Oman through both foreign and domestic investment.

Salim Al Hashmi, project director for MPC, at a mid-November ceremony officially opening the IPP said “This plant is a central part of the major integrated development of the Musandam Governorate. The project will play a significant role in meeting the power needs of the region’s current and upcoming industries, while at the same time benefiting the local community.”

The MPC also is an affiliated company of Oman Gas Company. MPC has a power purchase agreement with the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP); under the deal, OPWP will buy power from the IPP for 15 years. Electricity from the plant will be sent to the existing grid via a new 132KV transmission line being built by Rural Areas Electricity Company (RAEC).

The Musandam Independent Power Project (IPP) is a 120-MW natural gas-fired facility in a fast-growing region of Oman. The plant was inaugurated in November 2017. Though natural gas is its primary fuel, it also can operate on light fuel oil. The plant will burn associated gas from nearby oil and gas wells, gas that otherwise would be flared. Courtesy: Oman Oil Company

The Musandam Independent Power Project (IPP) is a 120-MW natural gas-fired facility in a fast-growing region of Oman. The plant was inaugurated in November 2017. Though natural gas is its primary fuel, it also can operate on light fuel oil. The plant will burn associated gas from nearby oil and gas wells, gas that otherwise would be flared. Courtesy: Oman Oil Company

Oman’s plan for new energy projects includes power generation, natural gas production and solar development, according to a report issued by the government in mid-November touting more than $1 billion in investments. Along with new power plants, the work includes construction of pipelines, and gas and oil storage facilities, along with export projects. The Musandam Governorate in Oman is a fast-growing region; the MPC in part was created to help spur regional economic development, along with providing needed electricity and grid stability.

The OPWP, which is Oman’s sole buyer for all independent power production, has estimated electricity demand in the country will grow 9% year-over-year at least until 2021. The country wants to develop large-scale solar power projects in addition to new thermal power plants; the thermal plants are expected to utilize natural gas, much of it from the Khazzan field in central Oman that is being developed by BP in a $16 billion project utilizing hydraulic fracturing technology. The gas also is expected to be used as feedstock for Omani petrochemical plants.

The country, under its “Vision 2020” strategy, has a goal of producing 10% of its total electricity production from renewable sources by 2020. OPWP in summer 2017 said it was seeking proposals for solar projects, just weeks after China’s Ningxia Zhongke Jiaye New Energy and Technology Management Co. signed an agreement with Oman Investment Fund to set up a 400-MW solar project at Duqm. A second phase of the project would increase the generation capacity to 1,000 MW.

Wärtsilä delivered the Musandam power plant on a turnkey contract, and has an agreement to operate and maintain the plant. The facility uses 15 Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel gas-powered engines with the ability to switch to light fuel oil. The engines are designed to operate in high-temperature environments; temperatures in the region often top 120F. The plant also uses minimal water for cooling, an important consideration in the arid region. The IPP facility is considered environmentally friendly because it will operate on associated gas from nearby wells, gas that otherwise would be flared, and Oman’s Ministry of Environment and Climactic Affairs already has recognized Wärtsilä with an environmental protection award.

Sushil Purohit, vice president of Wärtsilä’s Energy Solutions division for the Middle East, Asia, and Australia, at the opening ceremony said “We are proud to showcase the capabilities of Wärtsilä’s smart power generation in meeting the region’s strict grid code requirements. We are proud that we can also contribute to a cleaner environment by lowering carbon dioxide emissions through our advanced technology. We congratulate MPC and the Omani authorities for their vision and foresight in developing and supporting this project.”

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine)