An auspicious occasion, the ribbon cutting was attended by Prime Minister James Marape together with Niupower partners Peter Botten (Oil Search) and Wapu Sonk (Kumul Petroleum Holdings).
Also in attendance were Public Enterprises Minister Sasindran Muthuvel; National Planning Minister Sam Basil; Commerce Minister William Duma; PNG Power acting CEO Douglas Mageo; Kumul Consolidated Holdings representative Parkop Kurua; and Hela Governor Philip Undialu.
"NiuPower is generating 10MW currently into the Port Moresby grid. Once PNG Power and its contractor completes the Gerehu-to-LNG site transmission line by January 2020, NiuPower will be able to export its maximum 58MW of power into the Port Moresby grid," PNG Power said.
The Port Moresby Power Station was scheduled to go live in the final days of April 2019, the culmination of just less than 18 months of work on the ground since the first ground was broken in November 2017.
Speaking in March this year, the clearly upbeat chief executive officer of the company which built the state-of-the-art facility, Richard Robinson, said there had been a few bumps on the road but commissioning had gone smoothly.
"We are very proud of what we have achieved. We started commissioning just after Christmas as planned, but we had a number of issues getting various pieces of the control system to communicate stably with one another. But we are across all of that now and we are continuing to progress, and most of the systems on site are now powered up," Robinson said.
He said the control system was fully functioning and the power circuits were live, partially back fed from the PNG Power grid. The first engine start began on March 15 and the other five were being started and run tested.
Robinson said that NiuPower was very focused on maximising the PNG local content and of the capital cost of around $100 million, about $40 million was spent with local PNG subcontractors and about $8 million in income tax was paid by workers to the government.
There was an average site labour force of around 300 people for over 12 months, and of these 93% were PNG citizens, Robinson said, adding that all Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) approvals and requirements were acquired and were being fully complied with.
Development of the Port Moresby Power Station began in August 2017 and it is owned and operated by Niupower, which is jointly owned by Kumul Energy Ltd and Oil Search Power Holdings Ltd. Gas comes from the nearby PNG LNG project.
Niupower says the station will provide reliable power to Port Moresby and is the lowest-cost dedicated grid connected thermal generation in the country. Replacing heavy fuel oil and diesel, the plant also brings a material reduction in the environmental impact from power generation in PNG.
"The project is designed to be capable of staged expansion to about 175MW. The capital cost investment of $100 million is underpinned by a long-term power purchase agreement with PNG Power."
Niupower seeks to make a commercial return for its shareholders while creating opportunities to use PNG-produced gas to fuel cost-effective power generation within PNG, the company says.
"Development and operating risk for power generation assets is carried by Niupower but opportunities may exist for suitable and creditworthy PNG investors to join as equity participants in Niupower developed and operated assets," Niupower said.
This is the timeline of development:
• November 2017: Ground breaking
• February 2018: Initial site development
• March 2018: Foundation construction begins
• May 2018: Materials received and sorted
• June 2018: Engine hall erected
• July 2018: First generator set on site
• August 2018: Last generator set installed
• October 2018: Nearing completion
• November 2018: Mechanical completion
• December 2018: Gas supply piping from PNG LNG