GPL shutdown: Penalties possible as gov’t reviewing Wärtsilä contract


There could be penalties for the Wärtsilä corporation after fears of a massive explosion forced the shutdown of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL)’s power plant at Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) on Friday.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali, at the sidelines of an event on Saturday morning, highlighted that he has tasked Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall with reviewing the contract between Wärtsilä and GPL.

This review is being done to understand if the company has been in breach of the agreement it has with the local utility company.

The Head-of-State raised some questions that the government has following the discovery that something was amiss at the power plant. The discovery was made on Friday and since then, the five generators have been powered down to prevent any catastrophic mishap.

These questions include whether Wärtsilä was expected to have engineers in Guyana who would be able to immediately investigate such issues at the plant and subsequently, remedy those issues.

Additionally, the President has that the government will be examining whether the contract provides for penalties should the plant experience a shutdown as it is currently.

“We are going to hold Wärtsilä accountable,” President Dr. Irfaan Ali said.

He later emphasised, “They have to fix and they have to get it up and running.”

GPL’s CEO Bharrat Dindyal briefs members of the Media at the Garden of Eden power plant Friday night

Wärtsilä is a global company that provides power plant solutions and services; it was contracted to construct, operate and maintain the 46.5 megawatts (MW) Garden of Eden power plant.

During a visit to the plant while it was being powered down on Friday, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips said that Wärtsilä indicated that it will immediately dispatch a team of engineers to investigate and fix the issues at the power plant.

Prime Minister Phillips also pointed out that the plant was still under warranty and as such, Wärtsilä was liable for expenses that would be incurred to fix the issues.

Importantly, commercial operations at this plant only began in November 2021- just about two months ago. This plant was expected to provide significant relief to consumers by supplying additional electricity to the GPL power grid.

But, according to GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal, some issues for “about a month” now.

What prompted the shutting down of the plant, however, was indication that fuel was getting into the exhaust system. Since fuel is a flammable substance, that could lead to a massive explosion at the plant.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have to shut down the plant.

“…. We have a situation that presents a real danger to life,” Dindyal told reporters on Friday.

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