The fault that took out power delivery over the Basslink electricity and data cable between Tasmania and mainland Australia appears to have been located, the company said today.
After extensive fault-finding work, Basslink said [pdf] the probable fault location was approximately 98 kilometres from the Tasmanian coast.
The Île de Ré cable repair ship will now cut the combined power and data cables, recover the ends to the ship, and test and cap them to prevent water from entering.
Basslink said the cut and cap process, subject to weather conditions in the Bass Strait, should take around two weeks. Cutting the cable will also sever the optical fibre link running along the interconnector, making Tasmania reliant on just two, older connections operated by incumbent Telstra.
Once the cut and cap operation is done, the Île de Ré will return to Geelong and load cable jointing equipment and personnel before the ship heads back to the cut location to insert new lengths at the point.
Locating the fault has turned out to be a lengthy and difficult task for Basslink's contractors Alcatel-Lucent.
So far, it's taken more than a month of round the clock work to find the fault, with experts conducting over 20 remotely operated vehicle misssions that have collected in excess of 500 hours of pictures and other data.
As of yet, there is no indication as to what caused the fault. There is no visible damage to the cable, Basslink said, saying further cutting may be needed.
Basslink believes that weather and conditions permitting, the 400 kilo Volt interconnector will be in service again by the end of May.