Sleeping in a Power Plant to Ensure Reliable Electricity in Baghdad During Summer
While most Iraqis were hunkered down in their homes during much of March and April to help combat COVID-19, GE Gas Power and FieldCore (a GE-owned field services execution company) staff were making Iraq’s largest power plant their temporary “home.”
That’s because they were working against the clock, in the face of numerous complexities caused by the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure that Iraq’s largest power plant was ready for peak summer demand.
Much of the electricity generated at the Besmaya Power Plant is fed to Baghdad and surrounding areas, providing critical power to healthcare facilities, homes, businesses and more. Successfully completing services on four 9F.03 gas turbines, two steam turbines and six generators at the plant, while continuing to execute wider operations and maintenance (O&M) works across the site, was essential to ensure that reliable power could be delivered from the facility during the heat of summer.
Beginning February 2020, over 110 GE and FieldCore staff members liaised closely with Mass Group Holding (MGH), the Iraqi owner of the plant, to execute the services safely and as per schedule. They stayed at the plant away from their families for months, working long hours to ensure the maintenance job was completed on time and overcoming logistical and mobility constraints resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. These included delays in the arrivals of parts and challenges in access to technical experts.
Reflecting a spirit of “determination, flexibility and efficiency,” as MGH Chairman Ahmad Ismail put it, GE drew on the skills and ingenuity of local Iraqi teams on the ground, remote support from experts abroad, and access to a global supply chain in collaboration with MGH to ensure the plant was ready.
“Together, we are honored to make a positive difference to the lives of millions of Iraqi citizens,” added Joseph Anis, President and CEO of GE Gas Power for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
GE experts based in the Middle East and Europe coordinated with the local site team using digital tools, video conferences and phone calls on a daily basis to remotely support mechanical and commissioning works, identify and transport stocks of parts that needed to be replaced, and keep track of overall project progress.
To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, additional hygiene, health and safety measures were implemented at the site, including more frequent disinfection and cleaning activities, thermal screenings of everyone entering the site, distribution of additional mandatory personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, COVID-19 prevention training sessions, accommodation for staff on-site, as well as other precautions.
As a result, service works at the plant were completed safely and as per schedule.
Developed in three parts, Besmaya Phases 1 and 2 are already operational, and capable of generating up to 3,000 MW. Phase 3, which is currently under construction, is expected to add up to another 1,500 MW.
GE has supported the development of Iraq’s energy infrastructure for more than 50 years. Since 2011, the company has helped to bring up to 15,000 MW of power online across the country, including up to 1,400 MW in conflict-affected areas such as Diyala and Mosul. The company has also helped secure over US$2.4 billion in financing for energy sector projects in Iraq in collaboration with export credit agencies, commercial banks and other organizations.
Read more stories about how GE Gas Power is positively impacting lives across the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan region.