Geophysical investigations complete: PNG Biomass

Geotechnical and geophysical investigations on the proposed site for the PNG Biomass power plant and solar photovoltaic farm were completed late December.

The purpose of the geotechnical investigation was to design robust and appropriate earthworks and foundations to hold the structure of the power plant. It involved drilling bore holes, collection of core samples, performing Cone Penetrations Test (CPT), and the installation of a piezometer down hole to measure groundwater pressure.

Geotechnical engineers and geophysicists from Golder & Associates in Indonesia, together with experts from Insitu Geotechnical Services (IGS) in Australia, conducted the investigations using various methods to obtain information on the physical properties of soil where the power plant will be built on.

A local drilling company, DrillConnect PNG, was contracted to perform the boring to allow engineering geologists to visually and manually examine the soil and rock stratigraphy in-situ. The retrieved soil samples were sent off to laboratories in PNG and Australia for analysis.

“With the geotechnical investigations completed, and pending final project approval, PNG Biomass is anticipating entering the construction phase in the second quarter of this year,” says Power Plant Engineering Coordinator, Joshua Yaru.

“Only a handful of final approvals are required to hopefully secure a positive final investment decision from its project owner and developer, Oil Search, in the first half of 2020.

“PNG Biomass has made significant progress in 2019, including amendments to the power purchase agreement with PNG Power to offer the utility and the country one of the most affordable sources of energy, the addition of a solar farm adjacent to the biomass power plant, and the development of a ‘Put Call Option’ security arrangement based on international best practice to safeguard the substantial investment in the power plant.

“Early this year, PNG Biomass aims to sign the amended power purchase agreement with PNG Power, finalise arrangements with the Australian government and European Union for the establishment of the solar farm, receive approval from PNG Treasury for the security arrangement, and get sign off from the Bank of PNG to open the appropriate bank accounts to move forward.”

Press release