Sarawak Hidro suffers financial losses due to weather

Posted on October 13, 2010. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-

MIRI: Sarawak Hidro, the management of Bakun Dam, is suffering financial losses every day the impoundment of the dam is postponed because of the current inclement weather.

It has been more than a week since the pre-flooding trial was supposed to have started. Engineers at the site had to continuously abort any move to dam up the Balui River because of the heavy rain over central Sarawak.

Sarawak Hidro managing director and chief engineer Zulkifle Osman told The Star yesterday, the postponement was costing them a fortune and the longer the delay, the closer they got to the monsoon season which would make it even more difficult to start the impoundment.

“The current heavy rain and high river level make it too risky to carry out the trial run and the actual impoundment.

The cranes that we use to lower the massive gates to dam up the three river diversion tunnels have to be hired from a Miri company (500km from Bakun),” he said.

“It takes at least two days for the heavy crane to be transported (by land) to Bakun. But when it is raining heavily in Bakun, we have to send the cranes back to Miri because it incurs even more charges daily.

“Our ground technical crews also cannot be waiting in Bakun everyday. We have to get them out when we cannot initiate the impoundment and send them in again later when the weather improves. This whole thing is costing us a fortune.”

The impoundment of the dam is a very delicate and a potentially-risky process. There are two conditions that must be met – the weather over Bakun must be dry for seven days running and the depth of Balui River must be below 60m before it can be safely dammed-up.

At present, it has been raining almost non-stop and the river level was way above the 60m mark.


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