Power supply worsens as gas shortage continues

power transmission station21 January 2014, Abuja – Nigerians will remain in the dark for a long time to come as the electricity supply situation has grown worse due to shortage of gas supply to the power generating plants.

Our correspondents learnt that power supply had been affected by inadequate gas supply to the plants for the past few months and this had not gone down well with consumers, who are already losing patience over the now private sector-driven power industry.

In spite of the country’s 180 trillion (standard) cubic feet of gas reserves, 80 per cent of the power plants, which are gas-fired, are deprived of regular gas supply and experts have said this is responsible for the current drop in electricity supply.

The Managing Director, Korea Electric Power Nigeria Limited, the technical partner and managers of the Egbin Power Station, Mr. Gyoo Chull Yeom, confirmed on Friday that the plant was not receiving enough gas supply.

According to him, Egbin currently generates about 600 megawatts of electricity per day out of an available capacity of 1,080MW, leaving 480MW unutilised.

Yeom said, “Gas is not coming, and without this, the power plant cannot operate optimally. Gas supply is very important to the Nigerian power sector because almost 80 per cent of the power plants in the country are gas-fired.

“Inadequate gas supply is a big problem for Nigeria. Even with the private sector investment, if there is no enough gas supply, there will still be problems.”

A senior official of the plant, who asked not to be named, said, “Sometime in December, we went as low as 300MW coming out from Egbin because of gas problems, but recently, we have bounced back to about 600MW.”

He reiterated that inadequate gas supply was threatening regular power supply.

The government had said that 1.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day would be required to fuel the power generation of 7,000MW.

The Bureau of Public Enterprises also said that about $1.5bn operating expenditure would be required by the generation companies to finance gas purchase agreements and operational maintenance.

With a total installed capacity of 10,396MW, the country can only boast of 6,056MW available, with actual supply fluctuating between 2,000MW and 4,200MW over the last two years due to inadequate gas supply to the power plants.

If the gas supply problem is not resolved, experts say power supply in the country will remain poor.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission said power generation stood at 3,580.2MW on January 12, 2014, while the Presidential Task Force on Power said 3,574.10MW was generated on January 14, 2013.

Consumers have, however, been lamenting the worsening supply situation in different parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has said the shortage of gas supply to power plants across the country will persist until an end is put to the sabotage of gas pipelines.

According to the corporation, the blowing up of gas pipelines with dynamite by unknown persons is a clear sabotage against strides by the Federal Government to revamp the power as well as the oil and gas sectors.

Since the handover of the successor companies to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the new investors in the firms have been complaining of a drop in the supply of gas to fire their plants.

The development has led to erratic electricity supply across the country although there have been promises of improvements in the near future.

During a press conference in Abuja on Monday, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, blamed the recent drop in gas supply on the rising incidence of sabotage of crucial gas pipelines.

This, he said, had significantly eroded available gas supply to the power plants.

“This is a serious challenge and unless the act of sabotage stops, the situation will continue to persist,” Yakubu stated.

He said that as of the weekend, over 30 per cent, which is 480 million cubic feet per day of the country’s gas supply capacity, was lost due to pipeline vandalism.

The NNPC boss said the lost gas was the equivalent of the gas requirement to generate about 1,600 megawatts of electricity.


– The Punch

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