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February 2015:

Authority for Electricity Regulation, Oman published the
Investigation Report - Salalah System Blackout on 14 August 2014

The Authority for Electricity Regulation is today publishing the results of its full investigation into the system blackout that occurred on 14 August 2014.  The investigation concludes that a chain of events led to the loss of the entire system and a complete blackout of the Salalah network for almost five hours. This was triggered by a sudden drop of gas pressure at one of the power plants and the subsequent failure to successfully switch to backup fuel, eventually leading to a loss of all generation units in the plant. The report presents key findings of the investigation commissioned by the Authority.

Qais Saud Al Zakwani- Executive Director & Member of the Authority, said:

the Salalah System Blackout left customers without electricity for unacceptably long periods.  The Authority conducted a formal investigation of the incident and is today making the incident report available for public inspection. The investigation identified serious shortcomings in the response to the incident. Some licensees were not properly prepared for such an event and their response was haphazard. This left customers without electricity for longer periods than we believe should have been the case.

The Authority assumed direct regulatory responsibility for the Salalah Power System on 1 January 2014 and has a statutory duty to ensure the security of supply. We believe that more could have been done from a regulatory perspective to ensure licensees complied with the conditions of their licenses and we intend to ensure the recommendations of the investigation report are addressed by the licensees as an immediate priority.  

Customers have a right to expect electricity companies to expend maximum effort when providing services and to ensure they benefit from continuous and reliable supplies of electricity.  The Authority wishes to reassure customers that appropriate steps will be taken to secure improvement in the performance of licensees and to ensure the failings identified during the Salalah System Blackout are rectified

I acknowledge the full cooperation and transparency of the licensees during the investigation. This enabled the Authority to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the incident and propose recommendations to ensure a similar incident is not repeated.”

Background – the Incident

The Salalah power system experienced a total system blackout on 14 August 2014.  A chain of events led to the loss of the entire system and a complete blackout of the Salalah network for almost five hours.  The triggering event for the blackout was a sudden drop of gas pressure at one of the power plants which then failed to successfully switch to backup fuel, eventually leading to a loss of all generation units in the plant. The failures in the production facilities placed the dispatchers at the Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) in a difficult position, that despite their best intentions and efforts, they did not have the resources to manage effectively. The difficulties were compounded as SembCorp Salalah Power and Water Company SAOC (SSPWC) had reported issues that prevented them providing the blackstart services that they were expected to implement in accordance with the provisions of the contract between them and the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP). The Salalah system is supplied by two gas fired generation plants namely SSPWC and Dhofar Generation Company SAOC (DGC). Since July 2014, the Salalah system is synchronously interconnected to the Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) system through a 132 kV interconnector. The investigation identified issues at DGC who also experienced problems with their blackstart procedures and the OETC dispatchers were only able to blackstart the system by utilising the interconnector with PDO. The investigation also highlighted areas of concern with the performance of OPWP with regards to ensuring the performance of the power stations complies with their obligations.    

The Authority commissioned BF-c Energy Consulting to identify the technical reasons for the interruption and investigate the overall management of the incident by the licensees. The investigation included scrutiny of relevant documents and contracts, including incident reports issued by Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) and the draft investigation report issued by Oman Power and Water Purchase Company (OPWP).

Salalah Blackout Investigation Report