Current Status

The Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project has been implemented in four phases:

    • Phase 1 – Project Planning and Investigations;
    • Phase 2 – Detailed Design, Preparation of Tender Documents, Prequalification, Bidding, and Award of Contract;
    • Phase 3 – Construction, Commissioning and Taking Over; and
    • Phase 4 – Defects Liability Period.

Phases 1 and Phase 2 were completed largely during 2012-4 though some tendering continued into 2017.  Construction began in January 2014 and was largely concluded by end-2017, with the exception of the emergency spillway.  The project is concluding in 2018.   The Defects Liability Period begins at different stages for each contract and will stretch into 2019.

Background

As detailed on the Procurement Overview page, the initial priorities of the project were two-fold: (i) procurement of the Owner’s Engineer for the project, and (ii) procurement of the generating equipment (turbines and generators).  LEC signed a consulting contract with Norplan AS of Norway in joint venture with Fichtner GmbH of Germany, to serve as Owner’s Engineer for the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Project. The team mobilized to Monrovia in early May 2013.

In January 2013 the PIU completed pre-qualification of generating equipment suppliers, and completed the tendering process in late August 2013.  The contract was awarded to Voith Hydro GmbH & Co. KG, a German company.  The contract was signed on October 18 and October 23, 2013, in Monrovia and Heidenheim, Germany, respectively.  In order to maintain the targeted project schedule, LEC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Voith Hydro on August 23, 2013, which enabled Voith to begin the engineering of the turbines while contract negotiations were being carried out. With the signing of this contract and Voith’s commencement of the work, LEC effectively secured the original goal of the project, which was to achieve first power to Monrovia by December 15, 2015.  Unfortunately, the Ebola crisis resulted in a one-year delay to that milestone.

In December 2013 the PIU completed tendering of the advanced Enabling Works contract, and LEC signed the contract with Dawnus International Ltd. of the United Kingdom on December 20, 2013.  Dawnus mobilized shortly thereafter and construction began in January 2014.  Dawnus completed their work and demobilized in October 2014.

On June 13, 2014, LEC signed a contract with Andritz Hydro GmbH of Austria to carry out the Rehabilitation, Design, Supply and lnstallation of Hydraulic Steelworks and Auxiliary Systems.  An MOU signed on May 15 enabled Andritz to begin some of the early engineering works while contract negotiations were being finalized.

On December 18, 2014,  LEC signed a contract with National Contracting Co. Ltd. (NCC), a Saudi Arabian subsidiary company of the Rezayat Group, for the 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.

On April 8, 2015, LEC signed a contract with a Liberia-based Joint Venture of Pan African Engineering Group, Sigma Group Inc., and Mamba Point Hotel for Contract 5, Camp Construction Works and Provision of Camp Services.  PSM-JV’s scope of work includes preparing the site for the remobilization of project contractors starting in June 2015 and providing the necessary accommodation and working facilities and services for the rehabilitation works throughout the period of the project.

On May 6, 2015, LEC signed a contract with Eltel Networks of Sweden for the new construction of two double circuit 132kV transmission lines (24 km and 27 km) from Mt. Coffee to Monrovia (Bushrod and Paynesville substations, respectively), and dismantling of old existing towers and foundations.

Finally, on May 27, 2015 LEC signed a contract with Dawnus International Ltd for the Main Civil Works Contract 2A. This contract includes reconstruction and rehabilitation of the main dam, powerhouse, spillway, and intake; and other infrastructure and road works. With signing of this contract LEC completed the major construction procurement for the project.

The final major contract to be awarded under the original project scope was the Operation, Maintenance and Training (OMT) contract, for which tendering began in May 2014, was paused during the Ebola crisis, and resumed in June 2015. Following a competitive procurement process, the contract was awarded to Hydro Operation International of Switzerland and signed on August 23, 2016.  The HOI team mobilized to Monrovia in mid-September 2016.

In 2016 the project stakeholders agreed to add a new scope of works to the project as part of the project’s increased dam safety.  A contract for construction of an emergency spillway, consisting of a rubble masonry concrete weir and 220-meter concrete bridge, was awarded to Teichmann Structures of South Africa and signed on September 18, 2017. Teichmann mobilized in September 2017.

The project also set up a Panel of Experts to serve as advisers to the PIU and project funders and specifically, to ensure that (a) the dam, spillway and associated hydropower generation components of the Project, as designed and built, complied with international standards of excellence and safety for water resources infrastructure; and (b) that the project complied with local, regional, and international environmental and social guidelines. The POE was made up of 5 independent experts covering the disciplines of electromechanical engineering, hydrology, geology/geotechnical, dam design and safety, and environmental and social impact mitigation. The Panel conducted eight full missions to Liberia and several activity-specific missions.

Financing agreements between the Government of Liberia and its donor partners was first secured during 2012-2013.  On December 28, 2012, the financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB) was committed through the signing of a Financing Agreement between EIB and the Government of Liberia. On June 13 and July 4, 2013, the Government of Norway (GON) signed two Cooperation Agreements with the Government of Liberia committing grant financing to the Mt. Coffee Project Implementation Unit and the Hydropower Plant Rehabilitation Project, respectively. On September 30, 2013, the grant agreement between KfW Development Bank (Government of Germany) and the Government of Liberia was signed, signalling full commitment of project funds.  The Government of Liberia committed to financing a portion of the project.

Over the first two years of project implementation it became evident that the project budget was under-estimated, particularly for civil works, and cost increases also occurred due to the Ebola crisis and design optimization decisions agreed by the stakeholders. Additional financing was sought in 2015.  As a result, the Millennium Challenge Compact was signed between the U.S. Government (through MCC) and the GOL on October 2, 2015, which includes grant funds for the Mt. Coffee Project as well as additional support for the environmental/social activities of LEC. Additional financing is also being provided by the original funders: a Supplemental Financing Agreement was signed between KfW and GOL on November 26, 2015, and an Addendum to the original Cooperation Agreement between the GON and GOL was signed on December 1, 2015.

Due to the one-year delay in the project caused by the Ebola crisis, and a need for additional financing due to currency devaluation, the Government of Norway signed a new bilateral agreement with the Government of Liberia related to the operational funding of the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) in September 2016.

An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was prepared and finalized for the project in September 2012. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit was received for the project in August 2013 and renewed in January 2016; renewal was requested again in 2018.  A separate ESIA was prepared for the Mt. Coffee transmission lines and permit received in July 2012. Both ESIAs identified both positive and negative impacts of the project, with positive impacts outweighing the negative, and suggested appropriate mitigation measures for the negative impacts.

To address these impacts and establish guidelines and standards for the safeguards measures to be put in place by LEC and the project contractors during both construction and operation, an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) was prepared for both the Mt. Coffee plant and the transmission lines.  A Resettlement Action Plans (RAP) with several Addendums has been prepared to cover the reservoir area, the transmission lines, and the emergency spillway, respectively.

Summary of Progress

The project officially broke ground in January 2014, with a goal of achieving the first power milestone by December 25, 2015.  Unfortunately, however, the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia in late March 2014 had an unfortunate negative impact on the fast-track goals of the project.  The Government of Liberia’s 90-day State of Emergency, declared August 6th, prompted the Owner’s Engineer to issue partial suspension orders to active contractors to suspend site works, in order to avoid contractual situations of force majeure.  The State of Emergency was lifted in November 2014, though stringent preventative measures remained in place. Due to the efforts of the Government of Liberia and community-based organizations to control the outbreak and eradicate the virus, risk factors for full resumption of site works were found to be acceptable in February 2015 and the Owner’s Engineer and PIU remobilized to Monrovia.  Liberia was declared Ebola free on May 9, 2015 (the first of the three affected countries to achieve this status).

Unfortunately, the Ebola crisis resulted in a one-year delay of the project, due to the fact that the crisis spanned an entire dry season, which was needed for dam construction.  The target for first power from the plant was revised to December 15, 2016, with full project completion targeted for the final calendar quarter of 2017.

Construction resumed at the Mt. Coffee site in May 2015, with the launch of the camp construction by PSM JV.  As Notices to Proceed were issued to the international contractors beginning in June 2015, and these mobilized to Monrovia, the on-site activities began to ramp up.  All contractors were on-site with installation or construction works underway by September 2015.

The first major milestone following the mobilization of all contractors was accomplished with the completion of the camp and associated facilities in mid-December 2015. Additional financing agreements were concluded during the same timeframe with both Norway and KfW, to address the financing shortfalls of the Government of Liberia due to the Ebola crisis.  Compensation payments to all project affected persons who were losing assets in the area of the Mt. Coffee reservoir were made in line with the approved RAP, and their financial literacy training completed. Finally, the project stakeholders agreed on proposed Value Engineering of the dam design which came about following a technical review by the Panel of Experts.  The proposed design changes were predicated on the inclusion of an Emergency Spillway, the preliminary design for which was also accepted.

Early 2016 saw the launch of recruitment for the LEC Operation Maintenance and Training Contract trainees. The bid evaluation for the OMT Contract was well underway, and the trainees were hired by mid-June and traveled to Zambia, along with PIU technical staff, for a 3-month training program.

Dawnus completed the rehabilitation and construction of the existing and new forebay dams at the end of June 2016 with the exception of minor crest works, achieving a significant project milestone.  Andritz opened gates 1-5 and 10 to allow release of the river flow as the rainy season commenced.  The intake cofferdam was removed in late September, and removal of the upstream cofferdam was completed a week later.  Vegetation clearing and tree cutting in the reservoir was completed by PSM. Seven of the 10 spillway gates were made operational as per the scheduled milestone at the beginning of October, and the reservoir was impounded to 28.5 masl from October 14-28, 2016.

Wet commissioning of Unit #1 began on 18 November 2016, the transmission line to Bushrod Substation was energized, and synchronization of Unit 1 was successfully achieved on 12 December.  This allowed the project to realize its key milestone of being able to operate the turbine safely on the grid for the 15th December inauguration date.  Celebrations were held at the Project site and the Unit 1 was officially started by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Commissioning and synchronization of Units 2 and 3 quickly followed in early 2017.  Spillway deck raising commenced in January, and permanent road works got underway.  Completion of Taking Over Certificates, and final handover of turbine/generator Unit #1 to the OMT contractor for commercial operation was achieved on April 13, 2017.  Unit 2 was handed over on May 29th, followed by Unit 3 on July 12th.  The spillway gates were taken over by the OMT Contractor on June 8th, followed by the dams and intake civil works on June 13th.

Contract #6 for Emergency Spillway works was put out for tender in March 2017, and a limited notice to proceed established a contract commencement date of 30 August. Teichmann Structures of South Africa mobilized to Liberia in early September.  Dawnus completed the spillway deck raising on August 10th as well as shortly afterward the excavation at the Emergency Spillway, including the bridge and weir foundations.  Both Voith and Andritz completed their phase one works and demobilized from the site. During the last quarter of 2017 the second circuit of the Paynesville transmission line was completed and the reservoir infrastructure works were concluded with the completion of the steel pedestrian bridge at James Mulbah Town. New air admission valves were installed on the four generating units.  The PIU officially concluded its local operations on December 31, 2017, and prepared for handover to the new management services contractor on January 8, 2018.

The PIU’s services have been reduced to international staff in 2018, with two full-time staff based on site and the remainder of PIU management providing project management oversight on a part-time basis.  The main focus of the site works has been the emergency spillway.  Addressing punch-list items and issuing taking over certificates has also been a priority. Dawnus undertook an Extra Works Package which included installing a bridge over the tail race channel as part of an enhanced site security and public safety plan. All site works were largely concluded by end of July 2018, and the project began winding down.  Completion of all final documentation and other deliverables is anticipated by end-of-year 2018.