Considerable progress has been made in the effort to stabilize the country’s electricity generation and water distribution systems following two consecutive days of island-wide power outages earlier this week.
This was the consensus on Thursday night when officials of Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) and Barbados Water Authority (BWA), along with a number of government officials and advisors, met with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and some members of her Cabinet for the third consecutive day.
The BL&P confirmed that much of the more than 4,000 cubic metres of heavy fuel oil with additives that officials believed contributed significantly to the failure of equipment that resulted in the blackouts had been pumped from the tank at the company’s Spring Garden, St. Michael plant back to the storage facility at Holborn.
This process is expected to be completed by late this evening, leaving workers with a clear weekend window to prepare to receive a new shipment of clean fuel on Monday morning.
Additionally, results of tests on the suspect fuel, which were done in overseas labs, are expected to be in the hands of officials of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL), which imports it for BL&P, sometime tomorrow, Saturday, November 23.
In order to guarantee that there are no issues relating to the pumping of fuel to or from BL&P’s primary generating facility at Spring Garden, BL&P and BNTCL now have three back up pumps in place, ready to be pressed into service in the event of a failure.
Meanwhile, through its parent company Emera Limited, BL&P has secured a temporary 12-megawatt generator, which is now loaded on a ship in Panama. That ship will sail on Monday, November 25, and arrive in Barbados on December 5.
With much of the infrastructural work to accommodate that generator already in place, BL&P officials have estimated that within 10 to 12 days of its arrival it should be installed and commissioned.
While this is taking place, officials of BL&P and Emera will continue their expedited search for additional “dual fuel” generators that will produce another 25-plus megawatts of power.
Prime Minister Mottley has, in the interim, detailed Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, to facilitate immediate discussions between BL&P, the Customs Department, Barbados Port Inc. and any other relevant agencies to ensure that prior to the arrival of this equipment all hurdles are cleared to allow for expedited clearance.
To ensure that the power company is on top of all the issues that resulted in this week’s power outages, that the effected equipment is back to full capacity, and that the knowledge base of local staff is further enhanced, a specialized three-member mechanical team was flown into Barbados yesterday, Thursday, November 21, from The Bahamas, as well as a four-member team from Korea.
These additional resources will result in a 24-hour maintenance programme at BL&P facilities.
While all this work will continue over the weekend, the full group is scheduled to meet again with the Prime Minister on Monday evening to update her on progress.
On the issue of water outages, which were significantly exacerbated by the BL&P outages, Barbadians should expect a return to normal service over the weekend.
BWA officials have explained that while water to most households and businesses is fed from the reservoirs by gravity, electrically powered pumps are required to get it from the wells and desalination plant to those reservoirs.
It is that process of replenishing reservoirs that can take more than 24 hours in some instances, therefore creating the lag between the restoration of power and the flow of water to the taps of customers.
Additionally, many of the dry taps in the south, west and north of the island over the last 48 hours were caused by the failure of pumps at Hampton, St. Philip and Carlton, St. James. The unexpected collapse of a floor at Hampton during corrective work yesterday (Thursday) compounded the problem.
However, the Hampton pumps are expected to be fully functional again today, while crews worked through the night at Carlton, also with the aim of resuming pumping sometime today.
Once the Carlton facility is back online, water that was being temporarily diverted from Trents, St. James to the West Coast, should once again start flowing fully toward Lancaster and other higher elevation districts, resulting in a resumption of full services to areas such as Shop Hill and surrounding districts.
Roy R. Morris
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister