Construction at the Medupi power plant may not be completed until the latter half of 2014. Eskom held a news conference at which executive Brian Dames confirmed an expected delay of six months. Eskom and the stakeholders want to assure the public that they are pulling in the same direction despite the strikes that have plagued the project.
Dames said: “The target date of December 2013 is unlikely to be achieved. A more realistic target date for first power from Unit 6 is the second half of 2014.” He conceded that the power supplier had done all it could to meet the December deadline but it was not hopeful. The biggest challenges causing the delays are “the boiler and control and instrumentation issues cannot be resolved in time for the first unit of Medupi to deliver first power to the grid by 2013”.
One of the contractors provided sub-standard boilers with welding faults. The contractor, Hitachi Power, is accused of not making certain disclosures about its products. Eskom launched an investigation into this matter and the outcome of that investigation is yet to be revealed. Another contractor who is not in Eskom’s good books is Alstom, a French company responsible for the software system that is instrumental in maintaining boiler safety mechanisms. There have been delays in delivering the software.
To remedy the situation, Eskom has beefed up its specialist expertise for the project. It has also scheduled weekly visits to the Medupi site by senior management to make sure that there is visible progress. Eskom will also meet with the chief executive officers of the contracting companies on a regular basis to discuss any issues that may negatively impact the project as and when they arise. The power supplier wants to implement a strategy to recover losses caused by the delays from the contractors concerned.
Since December, illegal strikes have been the norm at the coal-fired power station at Medupi. The construction at Kusile, another coal-fired power station, has experienced similar delays due to strikes. Eskom and the contractors involved in the construction of both these plants have signed agreements to show their commitment to eliminating the possibility of delays in the future. All parties will be held accountable to do their bit to ensure successful completion of both projects.