By MYRNA M. VELASCO
The multi-phased power plant project of Razon group-owned Prime Power Middle East (PPME) has kicked off commercial operations this month for the initial phase of the gas-fired generating facility.
The power plant, according to the company, is designed to deliver baseload or round-the-clock electricity service to Umm Qasr Ports Authority Zone, which is in the Basra, Iraq.
Prime Power Chairman and CEO Enrique Razon Jr. indicated that their company’s greenfield power venture in Umm Qasr port, “is a testament to the potential of Iraq,” amid the lingering geopolitical and social challenges that the war-torn country is still confronted with.
The project, according to Filipino billionaire Razon who has been touted for his port investments all over the world, was concretized via a joint operation framework with General Company for Ports of Iraq (GCPI), in which the parties agreed to utilize the natural gas resource development of Basra governate for the fuel needs of the power facility.
“We see this plant as the first phase of many as we continue to be long-term investors in Iraq and to contribute to its economic and social development,” Razon stressed.
As cast on blueprint, the first phase of the project which has already been advanced to commercial commissioning was 29.3MW; while phase 2 will bring its capacity higher to 68.4MW.
Prime Power further emphasized that its Iraq electricity-generating venture still has a room for capacity expansion up to 150MW.
The gas-fed power facility utilizes three of the latest version of Wartsila W20V34SG engines, which enables it to have “fast start capability to be able to provide power to the GCPI grid within 30 seconds.”
The project developer firm added the facility is “fully automated with the latest control system allowing stable electricity generation to the Umm Qasr port grid.”
The power plant investment deal was first set on the negotiations table with the Iraqi government in 2016 – the period when the country was suffering from supply shortages.
Then in May 2018, Prime Power inked a 23-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with GCPI for the off-take of the electricity to be generated by the gas-fired plant, which has been designed to be integrated with a distribution system to support the port industrial zone as well as proximate cities.
Guillaume Lucci, president and COO of Prime Power, indicated that the completion of the project’s phase 1 was done in less than a year, hence, this is considerably “a significant milestone in Prime Power’s strategy to build up an infrastructure portfolio that delivers fast and critical investments to regions in need.”
The company added it will soon move forward with the facility’s phase 2 by the last quarter of this year, so Prime Power could even have “greater contribution to the Iraq power market.”