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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 19, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The long dry spell caused by the El Niño weather pattern is already affecting Port Moresby's power supply.

PNG Power has begun restricting water intake into the Rouna hydropower station outside the nation's capital, causing power interruptions and load shedding citywide.

El Niño is a weather anomaly blamed for worldwide droughts and floods. It involves an above average warming of waters in the eastern Pacific that occurs every four to five years. This distorts wind and rainfall patterns.

There are growing concerns about the impact of the El Niño on Papua New Guinea. Reports from the provinces tell of water shortages, and threats to food crops and mining operations.

PNG Power is restricting release of water from the Sirinumu Dam to only 450,000 cubic meters of water per day to generate power from the turbines and supply water to the National Capital District.

"This amount of water will only allow us to generate between 15 and 24 megawatts of electricity per day, depending on hourly demand," a statement released by PNG Power said.

"Additional generators of up to 8 megawatts are being purchased to assist in meeting the power requirements during the dry season."

These together with the controlled release of water from Sirinumu Dam and all other available thermal plants operating should meet the city's power supply until the end of the dry spell, it said.

PNG Power also operates diesel generators at Moitaka, outside Port Moresby. A South Korean firm, Hanjung, supplies electricity into the city power grid from two of its diesel generators at Kanudi.

PNG Power urged city residents to save water in the early stages of the dry spell to help reduce the draw down on the water level at Sirinumu, which is already down to the 59 percent mark.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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