Fiber optic cable damage may further delay NGCP VisMin grid connection

NGCP vismin cable damage 1

The completion of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) may extend beyond its adjusted December 2021 target, as several portions of its fiber optic cable connection have been damaged.

NGCP said the submarine cable no.1 portion of the MVIP’s Dapitan-Santander 350-kilovolt high voltage direct current (HVDC) line, which was completed only in November 2020, was found to have been damaged in several locations.

Initial reports show a vessel navigating the area where the first cable was laid a month after the completion of the cable laying activity. The damage was discovered while the second cable was being laid. An investigation is underway to determine whether the vessel indeed caused the damage.

“This is an unfortunate circumstance which may delay the MVIP timeline. NGCP is working on a catch-up plan given the fragility of handling fiber optic submarine cables,” the company said in a statement.

The grid firm pointed out that 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 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.

Upon completion, the MVIP will connect the Visayas and Mindanao grids through an HVDC system with a 450-megawatt initial capacity. The project covers 184 circuit kilometers (ckm) of submarine cables and 526 ckm of overhead wires connecting Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte to Santander, Cebu.