We only have ourselves to blame - Eskom COO

Eskom only has itself to blame for the lapse of a contract for early detection of maintenance failures, according to Eskom chief operations officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer.

There are currently seven generating units which have broken down due to boiler tube leaks as Eskom struggles to maintain its ageing power fleet.

Oberholzer briefed the media on Tuesday together with other Eskom senior officials and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, on the fifth consecutive day of load shedding.

Contract lapsed 18 months ago

Oberholzer said the contract for early detection of faults in the wide network of tubing inside boilers lapsed 18 months ago and had not yet been renewed. They are hoping to have a new tender in place by the end of the week.

The early detection system of boiler tube leaks allowed Eskom to plan for unit shutdowns. The power utility is currently scrambling to fix the problems as and when they occur and the complex process usually takes a week.

Gordhan told the media briefing that Eskom is in discussion with National Treasury and the Auditor-General for guidelines which will allow emergency procurement processes for maintenance and the purchase of diesel.

'No Diesel stocks available'

Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said the power utility had burned between 20- 25m litres of diesel by running the open cycle gas turbines as a last resort and there are no diesel stocks available in South Africa, except for cars and small utilities.

The power utility is expecting a shipment of diesel to be offloaded in the next couple of days and relieve the pressure on the grid towards the end of the week.

Adding to Eskom’s woes is the loss of 1 150 megawatts of power from the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric generation station, amid the devastation caused by Triopical Cyclone Idai.

Gordhan said he is unable to comment on when the rotational blackouts will be over. He said further information was needed based on technical investigations of power plants and promised this will be done within the next 10 to 14 days.

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