Chinese firm blames PHCN for power crisis


31 August 2011, Sweetcrude, Abeokuta – SEPCO, the Chinese engineering firm that constructed the Olorunsogo – Papalanto Power plant in Ogun State, has alleged that untrained members of staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) manning the power station were responsible for damage to most of the plant’s turbines.

SEPCO’s Project Manager, Mr Li Xianlai, said lack of expertise on the part of the PHCN’s personnel was responsible for why only six of the eight turbines were working. Two week’s ago, before the Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji, visited the plant, only two of the turbines were working. Four had just been recovered while two are still currently not functional.

He said lack of experience of the PHCN staff and inadequate gas supplies to the plant were some of the reasons the plant have not been working at optimal capacity.

“Six units of the eight turbines are running currently. One has a major problem caused by cleps from the national grid. The other has problem and the part has been ordered from China,” he said.
Xianlai, who spoke with newsmen at the project site, said in line with agreement with PHCN, 20 of its staff members were sent to China on training on how to run the turbines, but regretted that after they gained the requisite expertise on how to man the facility, they were deployed elsewhere.

He explained that those on ground running the turbines were not only inexperienced but were equally causing major damage to it even when the existing operational manual for the turbines was written in both English and Chinese for consultation when necessary.

He lamented: “One has a major problem caused by lack of technical know-how on how to prevent the cleps from the national grid. When the power plant was being constructed, some staff of PHCN (20 in number) were sent to China for training on how to operate the plant but to our surprise, after the training and handing over, the staff trained in China were not sent here.

“They brought people that were not trained and who do not have the experience on how to run the plant.”

He explained that despite that the Phase 1 of the project was completed and handed over to the Federal Government through PHCN in 2009, his company – SEPCO, is still maintaining the turbines at a great cost, spending “over $2million on spare parts alone in the last three years. “There is provisional running period of one year and for over three years after handing over to PHCN, we are the one still running it at our own cost. We have not received money from the government of Nigeria. We are still expecting the government to refund us,” he said.

He said the reason for the current boost in generation from the plant was that SEPCO transferred gas meant for Phase 11 to phase 1, but added that the situation will not endure if gas supply by the appropriate agencies, is not improved upon.

About the Author