There are still final project approvals pending before Oil Search makes a final investment decision in the first half of this year. Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter.
The geotechnical and geophysical investigations on the proposed site to build the power plant and solar photovoltaic farm were completed late last December, PNG Biomass said.
PNG Biomass power plant engineering coordinator Joshua Yaru said the purpose of the geotechnical investigation was to design robust and appropriate earthworks and foundations to hold the structure of the power plant, The National newspaper reported.
Yaru said the work involved drilling bore holes, collection of core samples, performing cone penetrations test (CPT) and the installation of a Piezometer down hole to measure groundwater pressure.
He said the geotechnical engineers and geophysicists from Golder and Associates in Indonesia, together with experts from Insitu Geotechnical Services (IGS) in Australia, conducted the investigations using various methods to obtain information on the physical properties of soil where the power plant will be built.
Local drilling company, Drill Connect PNG, was contracted to perform the boring to allow engineering geologists to visually and manually examine the soil and rock stratigraphy in-situ.
The retrieved soil samples were sent off to laboratories in PNG and Australia for analysis.
Yaru said PNG Biomass had made significant progress in 2019, including amendments to the power purchase agreement with PNG Power Ltd (PPL) to offer the utility and the country one of the most affordable sources of energy, addition of a solar farm adjacent to the biomass power plant and the development of a ‘Put Call Option' security arrangement based on international best practice to safeguard the substantial investment in the power plant.
PNG Biomass aims to sign the amended power purchase agreement early this year with PPL, finalise arrangements with the Australian government and European Union for the establishment of the solar farm, receive approval from PNG Treasury for the security arrangement, and get sign off from the Bank of PNG to open the appropriate bank accounts, The National reported.