The new U.S. ambassador to Iraq Christopher R. Hill participated in his first ribbon cutting ceremony May 7 at al-Qudas Power Plant, located northeast of Baghdad. The U.S. government has been funding a $176 million expansion project at the existing power plant, which plays a key role in power generation for the Iraqi national power grid.
A site tour and ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by Iraqâ€™s Minister of Electricity, Dr. Karim W. Hasan, marked the completion of the successful, joint venture between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
“This important addition to the ministry’s inventory of generation sources will help to guarantee the sustainability of our most recent output gains,â€ said Hasan. â€œThis Qudas expansion project points the way to the day when we will be able to meet the electricity power demands of all the Iraqi people.”
The project was funded through the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, which was established by the U.S. Congress November 6, 2003, and allocated $18.4 billion to rebuild Iraqâ€™s infrastructure. Al-Qudas expansion project is the final power generation project constructed using IRRF funds.
The U.S. State Departmentâ€™s Iraq Transition Assistance Office provided program management, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division in Iraq provided contract and construction management of the project. The Ministry of Electricity undertook site work including new water and fuel connections, major tank and piping refurbishments and major electrical connections.
â€œI am extremely proud of the team that has worked here to expand the Qudas Power Plantâ€™s power generation capabilities, and I applaud the efforts of all involved, particularly our partners at the Ministry of Electricity and the U.S. State Department,â€ said Maj. Gen. Michael R. Eyre, commander of the Gulf Region Division.
The expansion project is the largest power plant generation project both in scope and dollar amount overseen by GRD. The project, which began in September 2006, included the installment of two new General Electric Frame 9E generators and all supporting infrastructure including a new switch yard, trunk lines and processing center for the crude oil. When operating on crude oil each generator is capable of daily adding 100+ megawatts of electricity to the Iraqi power grid, for a combined 200 megawatts.
This large scale expansion project was Iraqi designed and constructed and will be Iraqi operated. The contract was awarded August 2006 to a joint venture between Uruk Engineering Services Company LLC and Baghdad Company for Gas Turbine, Ltd., both Iraqi-owned companies.
â€œIraqis should be proud of their Ministry of Electricity and the Iraqi contractors and workers who have contributed to reaching this important milestone,â€ said Eyre. â€œI couldnâ€™t be more pleased at the work we accomplished together, working side-by-side.â€
The project provided meaningful jobs to people in the local area, employing as many as 400 Iraqi workers at the height of construction.
Eyre went on to add that the projectâ€™s construction provided an invaluable opportunity to develop the Iraqisâ€™ abilities to design and construct their own power plants. â€œIt is probably one of the aspects of this project I am most proud of,â€ Eyre said.
All safety and operational testing of the two turbines was completed May 4 and the turbines were deemed fully operational. The ministry has signed a letter of acceptability and has assumed responsibility for the daily operations and maintenance of the project.
â€œIn recent surveys the majority of Iraqis are indicating that their number one concern is essential services, where in the past it has been security,â€ Eyre explained. â€œProviding essential services to the Iraqi people has been a cornerstone of the construction mission for GRD. Qudas is an example of what weâ€™re all about, building a strong foundation today for Iraqâ€™s future and doing that together.â€
Within the electricity sector, using Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Funds, GRD has completed 457 projects, valued at $2.116 billion. These projects fall into three major categories: distribution, transmission and generation.