Impairment in several portions of its fiber optic cable (FOC) connection is anticipated to cause further delay in the P52 billion Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP), which transmission firm National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is currently implementing.
The project’s completion was earlier re-scheduled to December 2021, following slowdown of ground works at project sites because of the coronavirus pandemic. But based on the recent assessment of NGCP, the timeframe may already spillover beyond 2021.
“The MVIP may extend beyond its adjusted December 2021 target completion due to the damage of several portions of its FOC connection,” the company has noted in a statement to the media.
NGCP explained “the submarine cable no. 1 portion of the MVIP’s Dapitan-Santander 350-kilovolt high voltage direct current (HVDC) line between Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte and Santander, Cebu (that was completed in November 15, 2020) was found to have been damaged in several locations.”
As culled from initial reports, the transmission firm indicated that there was a vessel navigating the area where the first cable was laid; and a month after the completion of that cable laying activity, the damage was found when the second cable was already being laid.
“An investigation is underway to determine whether this vessel caused the damage and who may be responsible for said vessel,” NGCP stressed.
The transmission company emphasized “this is an unfortunate circumstance which may delay the MVIP timeline.”
Nonetheless, the firm is still working “on a catch-up plan given the fragility of handling fiber optic submarine cables.”
NGCP further pointed out “the repair of the severed portions will require another round of procurement, awarding, scheduling of cable laying, all of which are also affected by prevailing quarantine restrictions in terms of cable shipping and availability of foreign experts.”
The transmission firm similarly cautioned that the actual cable laying activity could be vulnerable to “weather and tide conditions.”
The linkup of the Mindanao and Visayas grids will serve as the paramount foundation for the concretization of the country’s goal of having a single national grid – which proved to be a lofty ambition in previous decades.
With MVIP, the sharing of capacity in the two grids – for about 450 megawatts of carrying load- can also be made feasible, hence, ensuring a market for prevailing overcapacity of roughly 1,200MW in Mindanao grid.