German firm to evaluate Coca Codo hydro project

Nov 19, 2018

The German firm TUV has been chosen to evaluate the condition of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant. The firm will begin its work the first week of December, according to the Minister of Non-Renewable Natural Resources Carlos Pérez.

An artist’s overhead view of the Coca Codo hydroelectric project.

TUV will investigate problems with cracking in the power-generation chambers of Coca Codo. Earlier technical team reviews identified 7,648 cracks in the steel and concrete works, most of which are described as “micro cracks” although some are much larger. In addition, the comptroller’s office has identified 171 other problems with the work by the Chinese contractor Sinohydro, which built the $2.7 billion facility.

Following repairs, Pérez says he will seek a 10-year guarantee on Sinohydro’s work. “Because of the problems discovered during construction and after, we believe we need a longer period of assurance on the functions of the facility,” he said. “The original two-year guarantee established in the contract is not sufficient.”

Perez added that Sinohydro is working with the government and says it will correct the problems identified in project reviews. Major issues to be resolved, in addition to the cracking, are missing parts to plant transformers and lack of training for plant personnel. A Mexican technical team estimated that repairs could cost more than one billion dollars for the cracks alone.

Esteban Albornoz, minister of electricity during the construction of Coca Codo, agreed with the hiring of TUV to evaluate problems at the plant. “It is common in projects of this size that there are problems during the first five years of operation,” he said. “These problems must be corrected by the contractor.”

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In meetings with a committee of the National Assembly and with the comptroller’s office, Albornoz defended project oversight by the government of former president Rafael Correa.

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