THE National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said it is expecting delays with the completion of the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) after several portions of its fiber optic cable connection have been damaged.
"The submarine cable no. 1 portion of the MVIP's Dapitan-Santander 350kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) line between Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte and Santander, Cebu, which was completed only on 15 November 2020, was found to have been damaged in several locations," NGCP said in a press statement on Thursday, February 18.
It added that based on initial reports, the damage could have been caused by a vessel navigating near the area where the cable was laid.
"The damage was discovered while the second cable was being laid. An investigation is underway to determine whether this vessel caused the damage and who may be responsible for said vessel," NGCP said.
The grid operator said this may delay the completion of MVIP, which is targeted to be around December 2021.
"NGCP is working on a catch-up plan given the fragility of handling fiber optic submarine cables," NGCP said.
It said "the repair of the severed portions will require another round of procurement, awarding, scheduling of cable laying, all of which are also affected by prevailing quarantine restrictions in terms of cable shipping and availability of foreign experts. The actual cable laying is also subject to weather and tide conditions."
The P52-billion MVIP will consist of 184 circuit-kilometers of submarine cables between Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte and Santander in Cebu. The cables have the capacity to carry around 450 megawatts (MW) of power between Visayas and Mindanao.
The project also involves the installation of 526 circuit-kilometers of overhead transmission lines, high-voltage direct current converter stations, and various upgrades to substations in the Visayas and Mindanao to cover nearby towns.
In 2018, NGCP began the construction of the MVIP with the groundbreaking of the cable terminal stations in the Municipality of Santander, Cebu, and Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.
"The MVIP, certified as an Energy Project of National Significance in 2018, was initially targeted for completion by December 2020 but was extended to December 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine restrictions across the country," NGCP said.
For several decades, Mindanao's was never connected to the national grid, which covers Luzon and Visayas. The MVIP will link the major island groups "to create one grid and ensure the sharing of energy sources across the network." (With PR)