Oman power cuts to cost about $250m in repairs

The Gulf nation was without electricity for more than 15 hours because of a technical fault

The white buildings of the Mutrah district line the corniche at Mina Sultan Qaboos in downtown Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011. (Silvia Razgova / The National)
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Oman will have to pay about $250 million for repairs to state-owned grids and private property after a series of power cuts.

The cuts on September 5 left Oman without electricity for more than 15 hours. The Oman Electricity Transmission Company said they were caused by a technical fault.

“Repairs to the various power grids from different areas of Oman that got burnt are estimated at around $250m. Part of the bill is compensation to private businesses who got their cooling systems, like air conditioning and so on, damaged,” a Ministry of Finance official told The National.

The cuts caused traffic jams, forced schools and universities to close, while Muscat Airport temporarily halted flights.

Power was restored to the Dhahira region at about 2pm the next day.

Owners of private houses were left to cope without cooling systems, and some businesses also had to count the costs.

“My refrigeration system went out and everything in it got spoiled, from chicken to meat and fish,” Ahmed Al Battashi, owner of a supermarket in Muscat, told The National.

“I could not refreeze them because of the local health regulations.”

Other businesses were faced with greater expenses, but will not have to bear the burden of cost alone.

“My air conditioning compressors were damaged by the power fluctuations. It will cost over 12,000 rials to repair or replace the units. I am happy the government is working on compensation for the damages of the power outage,” said Abdullah Al Naamani, a supermarket owner in Sohar in the Batnah region, said.

A statement from Oman Electricity, Water and Wastewater Services (Nama), the government’s office for power and water distribution, explained the power cuts.

“The interruption was due to the sudden exit of a high-voltage line between Ibri and Nahaida stations as a result of a defect in the control and communication systems of that station, which automatically activated the self-protection system, and caused the line to go out of service,” Nama said.

Ibri is in the Dhahirah region, while Nahaida is in the Dakhliya region. The towns are about 300 kilometres apart.

A Nama official said a chain reaction caused cuts across most parts of Oman.

“The fault in Ibri did not shut off in time and caused a chain reaction to all other grids to other areas. We are investigating what kind of fault caused the power cut,” the official said.

He also said that the power cut this month was the biggest since the Gonu cyclone in June 2017.

That caused more than $4bn damages in Oman from infrastructure such as roads, bridges and private homes to commercial premises. It killed 35 people and injured hundreds.

Updated: September 12, 2022, 10:34 AM