(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador is bracing for more rolling blackouts after a surge of silt forced its biggest hydroelectric plant to go offline early on Friday.  

“Power cuts are necessary,” state-run electrical operator CENACE said in a statement after the Coca-Codo Sinclair hydroelectric facility was shut. 

Local power companies are reviewing where and when electrical outages will be scheduled just two days after a sudden blackout left the entire South American nation without power. 

Coca-Codo Sinclair, built for about $3 billion by Sinohydro and inaugurated in 2016, has a capacity of 1,500 megawatts and normally supplies about a quarter of Ecuador’s electricity. Since then it has been a source of energy insecurity and has gone offline more than a dozen times this year alone. 

Ecuador is seeking arbitration against the builder. More than 7,000 cracks have been discovered in structures leading to its eight turbines.

After the plant was inaugurated, upstream rivers began to erode aggressively, wiping out the highway between the capital of Quito and Lago Agrio oil town and continued erosion threatens the plant itself. In 2020 Ecuador’s two major oil pipelines snapped due to the erosion.

The risk of pipeline damage this week forced state oil company Petroecuador and private pipeline operator Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Ecuador SA to declare force majeure on oil exports.

Rolling blackouts were last imposed in April due to a drought affecting Coca-Codo Sinclair, as well as major hydroelectric plants in southern Ecuador. Those plants also went off line this week due to a power line failure along the the Paute River. 

Energy Minister Roberto Luque said that the event underscores the fragility of the entire system and will take time to fix.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.