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Pragma assists NamPower with technical review of four transmission substations

Pragma, supported by Aurecon Energy Services, conducted a technical review of four key transmission substations for NamPower in May and June this year. Says Karl Nepgen, project manager and partner consultant at Pragma: “The purpose of the intervention was to assess the current condition of various operational and asset management areas as specified by the project terms of reference, by evaluating the quality and effectiveness of the current maintenance and operating practices. The project report was to provide NamPower with an objective specialist statement which will inform the risk management pertaining to their business.”

The four transmission substations reviewed included Auas (outside Windhoek), Kokerboom (vicinity of Keetmanshoop), Omburu (near Omaruru) and Kuiseb (on the edge of the Namib, inland from Walvis Bay).

According to Nepgen the investigation had two focus areas, namely maintenance and operations. “The review findings were based on the consideration of a combination of aspects including the risk of complete equipment failure or network outage, the risk to quality of supply (e.g. failure of a power transformer causes power interruptions for a long period), the risk to personnel and environment, urgent maintenance required to reduce risk and to ensure extended life of the equipment, and lastly the expected remaining life of the equipment.”

The review was performed by conducting information scrutiny (off-site) and physical (on-site) assessments. Says Nepgen: “At each site the physical walk through and inspections were done with the local Network Operations district staff member, who related his day-to-day operations experiences and answered questions from the consultants.”

The consultants then viewed all major equipment areas and recorded observations on structured score sheets for subsequent capturing in electronic format. “In addition, high resolution digital photographs were taken from ground level only in order to both record evidence of observations and to reveal detailed information not visible at eye level such as nameplates and sight glass condition,” comments Nepgen.

Each site visit was concluded by feedback of findings to the Network Operations staff member(s), and highlighting of specific issues (if any) for short term action.

Nepgen continues: “In general the substations reviewed were found to be in very good condition and well maintained. Achieving such a positive outcome is partly due to very beneficial climatic conditions at the inland sites, but is largely due to a highly experienced, very hands-on technical workforce in the Transmission Business Unit, all very loyal to their profession, the business and the country – in true Namibian style.”

As a benchmarking measure, Dio du Toit (Technical Director, Aurecon Energy Services) recounted that he has been involved in audits which included the condition assessment audits of 20 municipalities in South Africa and some major transmission substations of Eskom like Sol, Beta, Hydra, and Koeberg. Says Du Toit: “If a comparison could be made between the South African situation and the condition of the NamPower network, NamPower compares very favourably.”

The technical review was preceded by an asset management maturity assessment of the Transmission Asset Maintenance division (AMD), performed by Pragma towards the end of 2012. The technical review project complemented the first project, and the findings correlated well.

Nepgen concludes: “A project of this nature, focusing on the risk to the organisation’s core business from the condition of and situation surrounding critical infrastructure assets, is fully supportive of current global good asset management practice as expressed by standards such as PAS 55 and the imminent ISO 55000 series.”

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