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RED TIDE DISRUPTS OPERATION OF DESALINATION PLANT IN BARKA.

A red tide outbreak in Barka has forced ACWA Power to operate two of its water desalination plants below their capacity, resulting in a financial impact of RO140,000 to the company.

The company expects further delay in reverting to full operations as proliferation of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) is continuing, which is likely to increase the financial impact of the outbreak.

The company disclosed the impact of HAB to Muscat Securities Market and its investors on Sunday. It said, 'From third week of July, the water production of RO-1 and RO-2 Expansion Plants has been affected due to an algal bloom prevailing in the Sea of Oman. The estimated financial impact to date amounts to RO140,000. However, as the algal bloom condition is persisting the company will provide additional update on any further material impact.'

According to ACWA Power, during this algal bloom period the pollutant levels in the seawater elevated outside the technical limits as defined in the Water Purchase Agreements (WPAs) of the two Reverse Osmosis (RO) Expansion Plants.

'The company and its operator are continuously monitoring these levels closely and have increased chemical dosing to the maximum in order to keep the two plants in partial operation until the seawater quality falls within the acceptable limits and full production is restored,' it said. This situation is defined as Seawater Quality Failure in the respective WPAs and once established, is recognised as a Force Majeure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevents from fulfilling a contract) event, the company stated.

Pursuant to the WPAs during the Force Majeure event, the company will get relief from liability for any consequent failure to perform its obligations.

Earlier in February-March this year, SMN Power Holding which operates Barka II desalination plant, faced a similar problem due to HAB as its water production capacity was disrupted resulting in a forced outage of 18 days with an estimated financial impact of RO425,000.

To tackle the impact of such HAB outbreaks, Muscat-based Middle East Desalination Research Centre is working to deliver an early warning system that would limit the impact from HABs by preventing them from reaching seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plants, while also mitigating their effects through pre-treatment and other actions within the plant once intake has occurred.

During red tides, marine or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water. These algae produce toxic substances which can be lethal for fishes and can pose significant risk to public health if not effectively removed by desalination plants.

For desalination plants, algal blooms can lead to operational issues like clogging of intake filters, increased chemical consumption, high membrane fouling rates, and in extreme cases, shut down.

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Publication:Muscat Daily (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Aug 5, 2018
Words:490
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