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TNB, Petronas to invest RM2b in 2 Sabah projects
Published on: Friday, February 03, 2012

Kuala Lumpur: Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) and Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) are investing RM2bil in a 300 MW gas plant and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Sabah.The two projects the gas plant to be majority owned by TNB with Petronas taking the lead to set up the LNG terminal are targeted for completion in 2015.

"Before this, it was just approval in principle,' TNB CEO Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohd Noh said. "We are now starting the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and coming up with the engineering design for the plant soon.'

Consultants have been appointed for the new gas plant and LNG terminal in Lahad Datu which will be using LNG from Sabah.

There were challenges faced last year in Sabah in terms of breakdowns (which were higher than in Peninsular Malaysia), but the situation has improved.

"The target initially was about 700 million SAIDI (System Average Duration Interruption Index that measures the minutes of outage experienced by the average customer in a one-year period) per year but we managed to reduce that to less than 500. We managed to reduce the frequency and duration of breakdowns in Sabah,' he said.

"The core issue is the need to improve the distribution system.'

About five years ago, TNB wanted to build a coal plant in the east coast of Sabah.

"We received a lot of objections; a lot of people thought that it was not environment friendly. So we had to scrap the proposal to put up a coal plant in Sabah.

"If we had been allowed to continue with that power plant, we would have the plant up by 2011. As it is now, we have yet to put up a single plant.

"We have sufficient capacity in the west coast of Sabah but we are still not comfortable with the capacity available, of about 200MW, in the east coast (which requires about 250MW),' he said.

Frequent breakdowns occur in Sabah because it does not have enough generation. When that happens, it has to start load shedding to curtail the supply to customers.

"We have lost a lot of time,' said Che Khalib.

Even though the east coast has a capacity of 200MW, it is supplied entirely by diesel plants that are not as reliable as gas or coal plants.

On bad days, only half of the capacity can be operational.

This situation also applies to the plant belonging to an independent power producer (IPP), which has ceased operations.

Besides obtaining power from diesel plants, some supply also flows in from the west coast.

"This is not a good way as any failure or fault may impact the supply,' he said.

"The transmission involves a very long distance which is easily over 300 km. There can be a problem with lightning or trees falling.

If we totally rely on this line, we may get blackouts in the whole of the east coast.'

Because of the critical supply situation in Sabah, TNB is transferring one of its standby dual fired gas/distillate plants from Langkawi to Tawau.

Dismantling works have already started on the 70MW plant which will probably take about six months to be set up. "It will be ready by August but we are trying to bring it forward to July,' he said.

The west coast, which has a capacity of about 500MW, is experiencing steady power supply.



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