Monrovia – January 16, 2015
The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has on December 18, 2014, signed a contract with National Contracting Co. Ltd. (NCC), a Saudi Arabian subsidiary company of the Rezayat Group, specializing in engineering, procurement and construction activities in the power, transmission and distribution, and construction sectors. Under the Mount Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project, NCC will carry out supply and construction of the 66/132 kilovolt (kV) Substation at Mt. Coffee, and extension of the two existing substations in Paynesville and Bushrod to accommodate the power from Mt. Coffee.
The Substations Contract 4A includes new construction of one Air Insulated 66 kV Substation at Mt. Coffee, which will be equipped for an eventual 132 kV upgrade of the LEC system (3 Generator Bays, 3 Line Feeders, 1 auxiliary bay) including protection, telecommunications, AC Supply, DC Supply, and earthing grid; foundation construction for three step-up transformers, fire protection walls, and oil pit in the Mt. Coffee Substation; a Control Building in the Mt. Coffee Substation with MV Metal Clad Switchgear (10 Bays) with Control and Protection; extension of the existing cable channel from the Mt. Coffee hydropower plant to step-up transformers; and extension of two 66 kV substations in Monrovia (Paynesville and Bushrod) that will accommodate the power from Mt. Coffee through additional Line Feeders.
Due to the ongoing Ebola crisis in Liberia, the work will be carried out in two phases. The first phase, to commence immediately following contract effectiveness, will include the engineering and design for the work. Phase Two includes supply and on-site construction works. Phase Two will commence after the project resumes its on-site activities in early 2015. The on-site construction works are expected to be carried out over approximately 20 months.
NCC was awarded the contract following an international competitive bidding process. The procurement process included an initial qualification of bidders, a process which selects the best potential contractors based on demonstrated technical experience, financial capacity, and qualified personnel. The qualified bidders are then invited to submit full technical and financial proposals. Following the evaluation of these documents, based on criteria included in the bidding documents, NCC’s proposal was judged to be the most responsive and of best value to the project. Though negotiations on the contract commenced in June 2014, signature of the contract was delayed by the need to assess, revise, and agree on the contract timeframe in light of the Ebola crisis.
Work on the Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project began in May 2012 with the establishment and development of the Mt. Coffee Project Implementation Unit at LEC. Engineering of the turbines and generators for the plant, under the Generating Equipment Contract 1 with Voith Hydro, began in August 2013. Though the planned on-site works of Voith were postponed in August 2014 following Liberia’s announcement of the State of Emergency, the manufacturing of the generating equipment has continued per the contract schedule.
LEC signed the contract for the Hydraulic Steelworks and Auxiliary Systems for the project, Contract 2B, including the lifting and rehabilitation of the spillway gates, in June 2014 with Andritz Hydro. Manufacturing of this equipment has continued per the contract schedule, though Andritz also requested a suspension of on-site works due to the State of Emergency.
Construction began on site with the Enabling Works Contractor, Dawnus International, in January 2014, which was marked by an official Presidential ground-breaking ceremony. These early civil works were completed at the beginning of October 2014. A local contractor, Pan African Engineering Group, in joint venture with Atlantic Realty & Investment Corporation, has carried out Essential Services at the site since that time, including security and maintenance of the existing structures and cofferdams.
To date five of the planned nine main project contracts have been awarded, including the first Mt. Coffee contract, for Owner’s Engineer services, which was awarded to Norplan-Fichtner JV of Norway and Germany and signed in March 2013. The Owner’s Engineer is responsible for project design and planning, procurement management, and construction management.
Though the project initially included four main contracts, these scopes have been split into smaller contracts as the project progressed to achieve greater efficiency of time. The schedule was the main priority of the project from its inception, with the target for first power set at December 15, 2015. Unfortunately, the Ebola crisis of 2014 introduced delays to the time schedule, which are still being assessed. While the project team is hopeful that on-site activities can recommence in early 2015, the use of the current dry season has largely been lost. This is because an entire dry season is needed for the first phase of the major civil works, in particular the reconstruction of the dam. Even if recommencement of on-site works becomes possible in early 2015, the delays in first commercial power will likely be in the order of ten months from the original target date.
Procurement of the contract for the Transmission Lines (Contract 4B) is in final stages and is expected to be signed in February 2015. Procurement of the Main Civil Works Contract 2A, following an unsuccessful first tender for this contract, is underway; this contract is anticipated to be signed in March 2015. In the meantime, a Contract 5, for Camp Construction Works and Provision of Camp Services, is being tendered and is anticipated to be signed in February 2015. This contract may also include some early civil works to achieve schedule benefits. Finally, the Operation, Maintenance and Capacity Building Services Contract (OMT Contract) for the Mt. Coffee plant, is also in process, with the pre-qualification process completed in 2014.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project continues to progress with a focus on procurement and manufacturing. The project team remains pleased with the commitment its active contractors continue to demonstrate to Liberia. The team continues to monitor and assess the status of the Ebola crisis with an aim to return as soon as the situation has stabilized and the medical risks are minimized. Further updates on progress will continue to be posted on this Web site.