Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC), which owns and operates the country’s transmission system, says it has successfully completed the first phase of its North-South Interconnection Project (Rabt), a landmark initiative to link Oman’s two standalone grids into one integrated national network.
The majority state-owned utility, part of Nama Group, announced in a post on Monday that the first phase – encompassing five major grid stations linked by overhead transmission lines spanning a total distance of 670 km – is now fully in place and operating at voltages of up to 400 KV.
With the achievement of this milestone, the Main Interconnected System (MIS) serving the northern half of Oman grid now extends from Nihada in Al Dhahirah Governorate all the way to Duqm Special Economic Zone in Al Wusta Governorate. Also as part of this phase, the isolated networks of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and the Rural Areas Electricity Company (Tanweer) in Duqm SEZ, have been interconnected.
Total investment in the Rabt interconnection project across two phases is around RO 372 million.
Underscoring the challenges of delivering the first phase, OETC said the transmission network spans diverse landscapes ranging from rugged hilly terrain and lofty plateaus to plunging wadis and desert expanses.
Constructed at intervals along the length of the transmission system are major grid stations at Nihada, Barik, Suwaihat, Duqm and Mahout. Built at a cost of around RO 25 million apiece, these grid stations are equipped with transformers of a capacity of 500 MVA and form the backbone of the network. The last of these grid stations, constructed at the Duqm SEZ, was brought into operation in September, according to OETC.
With the completion of Phase 1, OETC is preparing to gear up to launch the second phase of the project, tentatively before the end of this year. In this phase, 400kV transmission lines will run from Duqm further south for a distance of about 502 kilometres to link up with the existing Dhofar System.
As a strategic national initiative, the Rabt project will unlock benefits that go far beyond the obvious advantages offered by the interconnection of Oman’s standalone networks into a national grid.
Interconnection will pave the way for vast areas of Al Wusta Governorate, which are deemed optimal for solar and wind power projects, to be developed as part of the country’s future green energy ambitions.
Energy efficiency and security of supply are added advantages as well. Besides integrating far-flung Haima and Mahout in Al Wusta Governorate into the national grid, the interconnected system will also strengthen electricity supply to PDO areas, currently served by a 132kV network. Additionally, the project will reduce PDO’s dependence on gas-fired power generation for its electricity needs.