Yesterday at 6:07 pm, the Company's protection systems detected a fluid leak in one of the cables (cable number 7) of the two circuits that make up the electricity link between Spain and Morocco, an interconnection that is jointly-owned in equal shares by L'Office National d'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE) of Morocco and Red Eléctrica de España (REE).
The electricity interconnection between Spain and Morocco is made up of two 400 kV lines, one commissioned in 1997 and the other in 2006, comprising in turn of seven cables: three per circuit, plus one reserve cable. The seven cables run from the terminal station of Tarifa, at the Spanish end, to the terminal station of Fardioua, at the Moroccan end, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.
At present, all efforts are focused on locating the exact location of the fault so that work can commence to seal the leak. As per the design of the interconnection facility, the leak containment system automatically sprang into action by reducing the fluid pressure to the minimum level from a technical feasibility point of view, therefore helping limit the leakage in the first 2-3 hours to less than 5 litres/hour.
The cooling fluid used is biodegradable and, according to a study carried out in January 2017 by the Andalusian Centre of Marine Science and Technologies of the University of Cádiz, the fluid is not harmful to marine and human health. Furthermore, the study adds that the strong sea currents within the Strait would also help disperse the fluid.
Furthermore, the possible causes of the incident, which have in no way affected the security of supply, are currently being investigated. Regarding the interconnection exchange capacity with Morocco, it has fallen from 900 to 400 MW due to the fact that one of the two circuits is temporarily out of service as a result of the incident
From the outset of the incidence, the Internal Maritime Plan of the interconnection was activated, in its alert phase, and the incident was communicated to the Spanish maritime authorities. Furthermore, the incident was reported immediately to the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the other authorities concerned.