By its 788-MW nameplate rating, al Daura is the biggest electricity producer in Baghdad. But in output it’s a basket case, limping along at 80 or 90 MW on a good day. That doesn’t mean it’s a failed project, according to Francis Canavan, Bechtel’s spokesman in Baghdad. It’s just a tough one. In e-mailed replies to inquiries he explains why.

When U.S. Army engineers entered the plant on April 14, 2003, damage from fighting was minor, but dilapidation was extreme (ENR 4/21/03 p. 12). Daura has four 160-MW thermal units. Two are Italian and two are German. It also has four 37-MW French natural gas turbines. Most were down when work began, so it was difficult to assess their conditions. When they were taken apart, "damage was much worse than expected," Canavan says.

The boilers of the German units were in an arrested rehab begun in September 2002. Germany’s Siemens had started work under the United Nations Development Program but stopped as war loomed. Siemens also had a signed but unfunded contract to rehabilitate the turbines and replace the distributed control system.

Engineers found a host of problems: damaging misalignments, cracked welds and broken webbing on the end-turn windings.

Negotiations over the suspended contracts kept Siemens from returning to the job until last September. Siemens was reluctant to abandon the unfunded UNDP contract. Asbestos abatement caused further delay.

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The contractor shipped major components to Germany and Saudi Arabia for overhaul. Then, in April, security in Baghdad went to pieces. Insurgents attacked a bus carrying Russians who were working on the gas units. Two workers were killed and several were injured. Others were kidnapped in a separate incident. Siemens pulled out, and Canavan says the Russians were planning to leave until the U.S. military and the Iraqi Electric Power Security Service agreed to provide protection. A first Cavalry Division unit now lives at Daura and coordinates security.

Siemens returned in June but left again a few weeks later as violence continued. Still, the offshore work continues, as does civil, electrical and mechanical work at the plant. The German units are expected to be back on line in September and December.

"When they do come on line, their contribution will be much more than the megawatts–they will provide power on a sustained, reliable basis, which is the key to increasing megawatt hours," Canavan says. Megawatt hours are a far better gauge of service than peak output figures.

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