Eskom let boiler-leak contract lapse

24 March 2019 - 00:03 By GRAEME HOSKEN

Eskom is scrambling to secure a contract for the early detection of leaks on boilers of its power plants before these fissures expand and lead to units crashing.
Such a contract lapsed in 2017 and Eskom has been unable to pin down a new one.
During a briefing on Tuesday by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, Eskom's chief operations officer, Johan Oberholzer, said the lapse in the previous contract had contributed to this week's stage 4 power cuts. Eskom acting head of generation Andrew Etzinger said yesterday the leak-detection system was twofold.
"It was to have the licence for the actual leak-detection software, which is still in place, and the contracting of skills to operate the system. Earlier this year, under the guidance of the [Public Finance Management Act] and strict Treasury regulations on commercial contracts, an attempt was made to source the skills needed to operate the system. It was unfortunately unsuccessful and has taken an unnecessarily long time, given Treasury's strict rules on commercial processes.
"While we wait for returns on the [request for information] we have the engineers and power-plant technicians who are using their skills, along with software, to detect potentially developing leaks," he said.
"It is not a hit-and-miss process but when these leaks are detected it does take time to repair. Sometimes it takes a week to repair a single leak."
He warned that the benefits would be seen only over 18 months.
Supply from the Cahora Bassa hydro plant in Mozambique, which supplies SA with 1,050MW of power, had been mostly restored after it was cut in Cyclone Idai. Etzinger said 900MW was being provided.
"In terms of the [shortage of] diesel, deliveries and transfers have started but it is a massive process. It is going to take time and we are not out of the woods yet in terms of supplies."
Meanwhile, a senior Eskom official said power cuts could last for at least a year.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.