Progress Being Made for Iraqi Power Generation

Sept. 9, 2004


Battered as we are with daily images of people being bashed down to levels of subsistence, even to the point of death, many of us still retain a sense, sometimes suppressed by shades of political correctness, of how persistent human beings are about life and how quickly they can blossom, given half a chance. Sewage flowing into the city's water system in the Bangladesh floods, living on the sand and little else plus the ever present threat of fatal violence in Darfur and of course distraught with worry about one's kid in the street, and a stray bullet or bomb in Baghdad, Gaza, Tel Aviv, or Grozny.

Because we don't know exactly what is going on in Iraq, as it affects the general population, and we suspect we are not alone in this ignorance, it is good to hear the ongoing news of bits of new power coming on stream for the grid in the country.

In mid-August, Raad Shalal, an Iraq Ministry of Energy official, reported that Iraqi and U.S. engineers had put into operation the 52 MW generator at the Khor Az Zubayr power plant, 40 kilometers south of Basrah, which is estimated to produce enough power to service 156,000 Iraqi homes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Restore Iraqi Electricity Directorate claims to have added 1,500 MW to the national grid - of course with the Iraqi engineers.

In the general context of bringing to Iraqi homes, businesses, and industry more uninterrupted power supplies an Iraq Ministry of Electricity fact sheet says, "With more than half-a-million new jobs created, new industries and new factories coming online with the sale of thousands of home appliances, such as washing machines and air conditioners, Iraq has experienced a rapid increase in electricity demand." If this is, to some extent, a mixture of motivation and optimism, we can overlook some of the historical facts and the predominately trading nature of lifestyle supply with familiar global names on the appliance boxes. The progress of power service delivery at schools and hospitals would seem to be an opportunity missed.

Perini Corporation (Framingham, Mass.), working under a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, completed the construction of a new 40 MW power plant. The plant, which will supply needs in southern Iraq, uses a GE LM6000PC unit, which was designed and equipped to use either natural gas or diesel as the operating fuel. Perini reports that in October 2003, its team moved onto a site where there was nothing, but a high-voltage transmission tower and gas wells burning in the distance. The very fast track team included POWER Engineers of Boise, Idaho as lead design engineer, Tetra Tech, and GE Aero Energy and Industrial Systems.

Perini has nearly completed a second 40 MW generator at an existing plant in the region and has refurbished two 63 MW generators at another plant. The company has also completed the rehabilitation of 360 kilometers of high-voltage transmission line and towers in southeastern Iraq, and has rehabilitated nine low-voltage substations on central Iraq. The total contract value of all the above work for Perini was $370 million.