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RePOWERing Iraq

POWER Engineers may have its home offices in Idaho, and other offices throughout the U.S., but the team has seen its share of war-torn Iraq. As the engineering design contractor for Perini Corporation, POWER Engineers recently provided energy system engineering to Perini and its clients, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CENTCOM and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. POWER provided engineering for two new combustion turbine projects and a major transmission line restoration. POWER’s scope of work involved siting, transmission line engineering support, project identification, gas turbine procurement, plant design and field construction activities.

Buzurgan – A new 45 MW Gas Turbine Power Plant for a Power-Starved Province 

POWER served as the development engineer for a dual-fuel gas turbine power plant in Buzurgan and provided support in project evaluation and site selection. 

POWER investigated a number of alternative sites, considered fuel supply and transmission issues, and proposed a remote desert site at Buzurgan in the Maysan province, 250km north of Basrah. Maysan has an historic load requirement of approximately 135 MW, but at the beginning of the project, was working with 15 MW of baseload. 

POWER’s scope as Perini’s engineer included engineering for site preparations, supply, installation and commissioning of the GE LM 6000 PC turbine-generator set, switchgear, and the plant substation and interconnection. 

POWER and Perini were also responsible for the design and construction of natural gas compression, liquid fuel storage, treatment and forwarding, control buildings, switchgear, and maintenance facilities. The Burzurgan unit can fire either pipeline-quality natural gas or diesel No. 2. 

Power for Black Start: the Nasiriyah 40 MW Oil-Fired Combustion Turbine 

POWER Engineers was also instrumental in the initial siting and development of the 40 MW Nasiriyah ‘B’ gas turbine power plant and provided full engineering for its installation and construction. Nasiriyah’s existing gas-fired thermal plant is a critical source of power in the Maysan province, with connections to the 132kV and 400kV grid networks. However, it lacked a black start capability. The new 40-MW gas turbine plant provides this capability as well as offering additional power for the grid.

The new Nasiriyah unit is a Frame 6B gas turbine capable of operating on crude oil and distillate. “Integrating the new unit into the existing plant was thought-provoking,” states Andy French of POWER Engineers. French, normally based in POWER’s London office, was one of POWER’s lead engineers on site. A particular challenge was the design of the 132kV interconnection system and the routing of buried power cables through a congested 400kV substation.

Crude oil and distillate were the only fuels available. Crude oil was the prime fuel supplied from the existing power plant’s tank farm. “Gas turbines are sensitive to fuel quality and consequently the other key component of the power plant was the design of a crude oil treatment plant,” French adds. POWER designed, specified, and provided procurement support for this system.

Resourceful Delivery Under Lethal Conditions

Gas turbines often require a long lead time for manufacturing and delivery. However, to accommodate these time-critical installations, POWER called on their industry contacts to quickly locate the GE LM 6000 PC unit and the FE Frame 6B. POWER then arranged nearly heroic transportation of the big engines to Iraq via an Antonov cargo plane. The use of the Antonov aircraft required close coordination of on-the-ground services to allow speedy unloading in a critically hazardous area. 

Restoring 400 kV Overhead Transmission Systems Looted and Wrecked in Iraq 

POWER also provided expert assistance to Perini in the restoration of 360 kilometers of 400 kV overhead transmission lines and utility towers. POWER, a T&D engineering specialist, assisted Perini in the fast-track reconstruction by providing project management and design services. The line had been damaged by storms at the beginning of the war and was further weakened by vandalism and looting following the initial occupation of Iraq by coalition forces. POWER’s initial assessment of the line began in 2003, and revealed damage to 260 lattice steel towers. The towers were toppled and crumpled, bolts had been stripped from their foundations and conductor cables had been cut and stolen. Perini’s scope included repairing or replacing damaged conductor cable over the entire line.