CEB To Spend Whooping 3.5 Billion For Repairing Obsolete Gas Turbine

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is planning to spend Rs. 3,500 million to repair its obsolete Fiat gas turbine at Kelanitissa.

Well informed officials told The Earthlanka that CEB has rejected in July 2019 the recommendation of CEB’s Generation Division to spend Rs. 3.5 billion for this repair, which includes third major inspection and replacement of the rotor.
This gas turbine had been purchased in 1986 from an Italian company which is no longer in the gas turbine manufacturing business. Because of this reason the gas turbine has been serviced and maintained at different times by third party companies, which claimed to be the original manufacturer.
CEB has spent massive amount for maintenance services and spares of this machine in the past, including Rs. 345 million in 2002 and Rs. 1,400 million in 2013 for two major inspections. This machine has operated nearly 160,000 hours since its installation, but less than 50,000 hours for actual power generation. In the meantime, CEB’s Generation Division has ordered a new control system for this machine at a cost of Rs. 130 million which is presently being installed by an Italian contractor.
According to CEB’s approved long term generation expansion plan, the Fiat gas turbine (GT-7) is scheduled to retire in January 2023. However, CEB’s Generation Division has taken the position that the machine cannot be operated beyond 2020 unless the expensive refurbishment costing Rs. 3.5 billion is carried out.
A committee of senior engineers representing Generation and Projects divisions of CEB appointed by General Manager in October 2019 to study and report on this claim has recommended against the major overhaul of this gas turbine and recommended expediting the procurement of the proposed new gas turbine capacity of 130 MW, which should become available in 2020. Procurement of these new gas turbines has been included in CEB’s generation plans since 2002.
Power and Energy Ministry has appointed a technical evaluation committee (TEC) for this procurement in 2016. This TEC had submitted its report after three years in February 2016, prompting the Projects Division of CEB to request additional funds from CEB and three-year extension of the project management unit to complete the installation. However, CEB Board has not agreed to this request and decides to fast track the procurement based on recommendation of the General Manager. It is understood that this tender is currently awaiting approval of the Ministry of Power and Energy.
In this background,  it is  understood  that the procurement of new gas turbines is facing fierce opposition from within and outside CEB, mainly by those who promote the costly refurbishment of the aged and inefficient Fiat gas turbine.
A senior ministry official said that that CEB is under tremendous pressure to carry out the repair from the Italian service provider who stands to profit enormously from the Rs. 3.5 billion repair proposal.
Several senior CEB engineers The Island spoke to revealed on condition of anonymity that they were appalled as to why the Board of CEB and the Ministry of Power and Energy are taking a lackadaisical attitude towards the proposed procurement of new gas turbines, when CEB stands to benefit greatly from it. The cost of a unit generated from the new gas turbines is estimated to be less than Rs. 25 while this cost is Rs. 39 per unit for the Fiat gas turbine. The new gas turbines are estimated to save nearly Rs. 4,000 million every year by replacing the old gas turbines at Kelanitissa.