‘Out of order for fuel’, the reason for the coming blackouts?

‘Out of order for fuel’, the reason for the coming blackouts?

HAVANA, July 5th The Electrical Union (UNE) of Cuba reported that, despite the fact that the blackouts of the last month have been remitted this week, on Sunday there are 26 generation plants in distributed generation “out of service for fuel” which represents a 70MW deficit.

Also, he indicated, that there are 34 more plants, a total of 284MW, “with low coverage” of fuel.

This situation, which assumes that plants that contribute to energy production do not have fuel oil or diesel to operate, indicates that the fuel shortage could begin to hit the country after the authorities assured that there is no shortage of that resource mostly obtained from shipments from its ally Venezuela.

Despite this, the state entity assured that the electricity service was not affected on Saturday due to a deficit in generation capacity in the system, something that would have been maintained during the early hours of Sunday.

The availability of the Cuban electricity system at dawn on Sunday was 2,303MW and the demand was 2,110MW, so no power outages were announced.

Despite this, units 6, 7 and 8 of the Máximo Gómez Thermoelectric Plant remain out of service due to breakdowns; the Otto Parellada unit; the 4 of the Diez de Octubre, and the 5 of the Antonio Maceo, while in maintenance continue the unit 5 of the Diez de Octubre and the 2 of the Lidio Ramón Pérez.

Likewise, in the company Energas Varadero, the steam turbine, which produces 20MW, is out of service and there are limitations in the thermal generation of the order of 458 MW, while in distributed generation 1,040MW are missing due to breakdown and 384MW are in maintenance.

The authorities have tried to make up for the severe energy crisis of the past few weeks which led to blackouts of more than ten hours in many parts of the country, starting up small power plants, many of which rely on imported fuel rather than Cuban heavy oil used by some of the largest thermoelectric plants, as well as increasing the efficiency of some of these generators.

In this sense, the Electric Union indicated that for Sunday’s peak hours it will start up unit 5 of the Rente Thermoelectric Plant, with 90MW; it will increase 10MW plus the Puerto Escondido unit; it will recover 60MW that are out of service for fuel in distributed generation, and will use 322MW in diesel engines that “have reached their maintenance hours and have been authorized to operate for ten hours.”

The fuel situation comes just as production at Venezuela’s largest refinery, Amuaywhich can process some 645,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), stopped late on Saturday due to an electrical failure that caused a blackout five people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Amuay was paralyzed after some operations were stopped at the neighboring Cardón refinery while repairing a fault in the reformer.

The problems arose from a failure in the power plant that supplies power to both refineries but affects Amuay more, one of the sources said. While power has been restored, the processing outage has not been fixed, the source added.

May closed with a collapse of oil exports from Venezuela to Cuba to its lowest level in 19 months while Cubans suffered extensive blackouts, which the authorities blamed on breakdowns in almost half of the generation blocks in operation on the island.

According to documents from the state-owned PDVSA and vessel tracking data gathered by Reuters, Venezuela’s oil exports fell that month to the lowest level since October 2020, as 21 shipments were shipped, amounting to an average of 391,452 barrels per day (bpd). crude oil and other fuels.

Such figures represented a drop of 49% compared to last April and 34% below the exports of May 2021.

Although Cuban authorities did not mention fuel shortages among the causes of blackouts of more than ten hours in most of the country in late May, during a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel said that apart from the “breakages and necessary maintenance that have had to be given to the thermoelectric plants,” the main cause of the cuts is “the fuel deficit.”

This also affects the public transport crisis, which forces Cubans to wait hours to move.

At the same meeting, the Minister of Energy and Mines of Cuba, Liván Arronte Cruz, recognized that the shortage of fuel, due to the increase in the price of crude oil at the international level, is one of the factors that has caused the increase in blackouts. , attributed exclusively to breakdowns and repair works so far.

Nevertheless, fuel from Venezuela arrives in Cuba in exchange for the thousands of professionals, especially doctors, exported by Havana under an agreement signed by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, which is still in force.