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NGCP: Submarine cable damage seen to delay Mindanao-Visayas interconnection

The Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) might not meet its target completion in December 2021 due to the damage sustained by several portions of its fiber optic cable connection.

In a statement, NGCP said the submarine cable No.1 portion of the MVIP's Dapitan-Santander 350 kilo-volt (kV) high voltage direct current (HVDC) line between Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte and Santander, Cebu, which was completed on November 15, 2020, had been found damaged at several locations.

Citing initial reports, NGCP said a vessel was seen navigating the area where the first cable was laid a month after the cable laying activity was completed.

The damage was discovered while the second cable was being laid.

An investigation is underway to determine whether this vessel caused the damage and who may be responsible for said vessel, the NGCP said.

“This is an unfortunate circumstance which may delay the MVIP timeline. NGCP is working on a catch-up plan given the fragility of handling fiber optic submarine cables,” the company said.

The grid operator said the repair of the severed portions would require another round of procurement, awarding, scheduling of cable laying, all of which are also affected by prevailing quarantine restrictions in terms of cable shipping and availability of foreign experts.

The actual cable laying is also subject to weather and tide conditions.

The MVIP, certified as an Energy Project of National Significance in 2018, was initially targeted for completion by December 2020 but was extended to December 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine restrictions across the country.

Upon completion, the MVIP will connect the Visayas and Mindanao grids through a high voltage direct current (HVDC) system with a 450 MegaWatt (MW) initial capacity.

The project covers 184 circuit kilometers (ckm) of submarine cables and 526 ckm of overhead wires connecting Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte to Santander, Cebu. -NB, GMA News