PLN hit by gas supply problem

Rendi Akhmad Witular, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State-owned power utility PLN will have to incur extra expenditure on buying diesel to fire its power plants and avoid massive blackouts in Jakarta and Banten following a disruption to its gas supply.

PLN acting president Djuanda Nugraha Ibrahim told reporters Monday that the company would have to spend an extra Rp 115 billion (US$12.63 million) in the next two weeks, or some Rp 8.2 billion per day, on buying diesel.

"The extra money will be used to buy 1,600 kiloliters of diesel per day to keep our power plants running following disruption in our gas supplies from BP West Java," said Djuanda after meeting Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

BP West Java, a local unit of British oil giant BP Plc, has reduced its gas supplies to PLN's combined-cycle power plants in Tanjung Priok and Muara Karang -- both in North Jakarta -- due to a leak since late last week in its gas transmission pipeline, which is believed to have been ruptured by a ship's anchor. The repair work is expected to be completed in two weeks.

The Tanjung Priok and Muara Karang plants have a capacity of 1,050 megawatts (MW) and 500 MW, respectively.

With BP only able to supply some 130 million metric cubic feet (MMCFD) of gas per day compared to the normal supply of 260 MMCFD, Djuanda said PLN's power output had declined as its plants could not run at maximum capacity.

Djuanda said that the lower output had prompted PLN to declare an alert for power consumers in Jakarta and Banten due to the power supply deficit, estimated at 300 megawatts.

But he remained upbeat that PLN would be able to afford the diesel from state oil and gas company PT Pertamina despite the fact that the company has a massive debt of some Rp 18.8 trillion to Pertamina.

"This is really an accident. We hope that BP West Java will be able to fix the problem in less than two weeks," said Djuanda, appealing to household and business customers to reduce power consumption during peak hours between 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. to avoid blackouts.

Should these efforts not be enough, PLN would have to black out some parts of Jakarta to save around 100 MW, and also institute power cuts in West Java to save 96 MW, in Central Java to save 44 MW, in East Java to save 49 MW and in Bali to save 11 MW.

The company has also appealed to state-owned steel producer PT Krakatau Steel in Cilegon, Banten, to reduce its activities during peak hours in order to prevent blackouts in the surrounding areas.

The government has already ordered PLN to boost efficiency, and accelerate the conversion of some of its oil-fired power plants to the use of gas and coal to reduce the company's exposure to high-cost energy.
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