A new interconnection between the electricity grids of the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently under study, according to the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) – the sole buyer of electricity and water output under the sector law.
When approved for eventual implementation, it will be the second such interconnection between the Sultanate of Oman and its Gulf neighbours – a move that will facilitate firm support during emergencies, as well as open up opportunities for electricity trading and coordinated reserves planning.
The GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) – the operator of the transmission system linking the grids of the GCC member states - is conducting a detailed study centring on the establishment of an interconnect linking the Sultanate of Oman at Ibri directly to Salwa in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, OPWP noted in its 7-Year Outlook Statement (2021 – 2027).
“The proposed link is a 400 kV DC link of about 700 km,” it said. “The study’s initial outcomes indicate that the net transfer capacity to Oman would increase from 400 MW to about 1,600 MW. Accordingly, it is expected that the two interconnects would contribute more to the planning reserve requirements,” the state-owned entity, which is a member of Nama Group, stated.
The first interconnection, facilitated by the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA), came into operation in 2012. It links the Main Interconnected System (MIS) of the Sultanate of Oman and the power systems of the GCCIA via Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). This 220 kV interconnection allows Oman access to the power systems of the five GCC member states via this link.
“The interconnection is a double circuit link that supports reliable transfers of up to 400 MW and can carry up to 800 MW in emergencies. The link has provided emergency reserves on a number of occasions, preventing power failures in the MIS,” OPWP stressed.
Benefits accruing to the Sultanate of Oman from the two interconnects will be significant, according to the power procurer. Notably, they enable energy trades and firm capacity purchases from neighbouring countries, thereby mitigating the need for costly investments in new capacity, says OPWP. The existing interconnection made possible firm capacity exchanges between OPWP and the Emirates Electricity and Water Company (EWEC) in 2016 and 2018, while a capacity export to EWEC took pace in 2020. Arrangements are currently in place with the GCCIA to facilitate trade pacts with other member states of the Interconnection Authority, OPWP added in its Outlook Statement.