Jorf Lasfar goes commercial

18 May 2001

The fourth and final unit of the Jorf Lasfar power plant in Morocco has entered commercial operation. This milestone marks completion of the largest independent power plant in Africa and the Middle East.

The 348 MWe Jorf Lasfar unit 4 began supplying commercial power on 2 February, 2001 to Office Nationale de l’Electricite (ONE), the Moroccan national utility. Units 1 and 2, which total 660 MWe, were completed in 1994 and 1995. The 348 MWe unit 3 was completed in June 2000. Completion of unit 4 brings the plant’s total capacity up to its full rating of 1356 MWe. Units 1 and 2 are coal and fuel-oil fired, while units 3 and 4 are coal fired.

Located on the Atlantic coast near the city of El Jadida, about 130 km southwest of Casablanca, the Jorf Lasfar plant is the first independent power project (IPP) in Morocco. With all four units in operation it now generates more than a half of Morocco’s total electricity supply and represents about 35 per cent of the country’s installed capacity. Jorf Lasfar constitutes a key element in Morocco’s economic privatisation plans and is expected to play a key role in the country’s future economic growth.

Power from the plant is sold to Office Nationale de l’Electricite under a 30-year purchase agreement. CMS Energy and ABB Financial Services each hold 50 per cent ownership in the Jorf Lasfar Energy Company (JLEC), which is responsible for operating, maintaining and managing the power station.

In September 1997 operating responsibility was assumed by CMS Generation, which is the independent power unit of CMS Energy Corporation. In recent years the operating units at Jorf Lasfar have achieved consistently high levels of plant availability and output.

The port facilities on site will allow the four generating units to draw on coal stocks created not only for this plant but also for Morocco’s other power generation sites.

First of a kind

As the first private power plant in Morocco, the $1.5 billion Jorf Lasfar plant was built using a complex scheme of project finance, requiring careful co-ordination of all the partners involved and a good deal of effort in sourcing of the equipment from a number of different countries. For units 3 and 4, Alstom was in the position of being able to assure international sourcing from its divisions in the United States, Italy and Switzerland. Being the first of a kind, Jorf Lasfar proved to be a particularly demanding project and the Moroccan government’s commitment to seeing it through to completion was a major contributor to success.

For Jorf Lasfar units 3 and 4 the finance lead arrangers were ABN Amro, BNP and Credit Suisse. The export credit agencies involved were SACE (Italy), Exim (United States) and ERG (Switzerland).

The joint-venture company established for the project, the Jorf Lasfar Energy Company, will run the facility for the next 30 years, selling the power generated to Office Nationale de l’Electricite, who will then become the owner of the plant.

The Jorf Lasfar power plant was the first facility in Morocco to be subjected to an environmental impact study.

Plant supply

All four units at Jorf Lasfar have been supplied by Alstom. In 1990, the company was awarded a contract for the supply of units 1 and 2, the two 330 MW coal and fuel oil fired plants, by Office National d’Electricité. In 1997 a second contract, for the supply of the two 350 MW coal fired power plants, units 3 and 4, was placed with Alstom by the Jorf Lasfar Energy Company. For both projects Alstom was responsible for design, engineering, procurement, civil works construction and commissioning of the plants. For Jorf Lasfar units 3 and 4, Alstom divisions in Switzerland supplied the steam turbines, generators plus bus ducts, main/auxiliary/start-up transformers, condensers, feedwater heaters and distributed control systems. Alstom divisions in the United States supplied boilers, silos, pulverisers, FD/ID fans, air preheaters, and burner management systems. Italian divisions of Alstom were responsible for power cycle piping systems, boiler feedwater pumps and condensate pumps, cooling water pumps and pipework, balance-of-plant piping and equipment, electrostatic precipitators, fly/bottom ash system, water treatment system and the medium voltage and low voltage electrical system.

Locally subcontracted supply for Jorf Lasfar units 3 and 4 included boiler steel structures (Maroc Montage), erection of tanks for the electrostatic precipitators (Sogenexe), painting (ETMI), heating, ventilation and air conditioning (Frem Maroc), electrical installation (Elecam), insulation installation (Prezioso).

A multinational workforce totalling 2000 people worked on Jorf Lasfar units 3 and 4, consisting mainly of local people but also including people from Pakistan, India, Egypt, and the Philippines. A significant example of practical technology transfer associated with the project was a welding school established by Alstom to provide on-the-job training for 100 selected local people, with the trainee welders working closely with the international team on site, gaining practical experience in their new discipline.

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