18 power generating stations shut down

26 May 2015, Abuja – Eighteen power generation plants out of the 23 in the country are currently not generating electricity. As a result, the country has lost over 2,000 megawatts of electricity.

Egbin power plant.

Egbin power plant.

Though the government has often blamed the poor power supply on vandalism of gas pipelines, the industrial action embarked upon by oil and gas workers has compounded the problem.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, stated that in the last couple of months, power supply had been generally poor on account of increase in vandalism in the run up to the April 2015 elections.

The commission said on Monday, “But this bad supply condition has worsened in the last few days. At present, 18 out of the 23 power plants in the country are unable to generate electricity due to shortage of gas supply to the thermal plants, with one of the hydro stations faced with water management issue.

“This has led to loss of over 2,000MW in the national grid. This situation is further compounded by the recent industrial action embarked upon by workers in the oil and gas industry, a development, which is taking a toll on other sectors of the economy.

“Gas supplies to the thermal plants have been further constrained by the industrial action of workers in the oil and gas industry.”

NERC said it had engaged the gas supply companies and its licensees in discussion two weeks ago on how to firm up gas supply in order to increase power supply.

It noted that unfortunately, not much progress was made as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiary, the Nigerian Gas Company, reported high incidence of vandalism in some areas that were relatively peaceful along its pipeline networks.

NERC said, “That meeting was told of the damage done to Trans-Forcados pipeline in the western axis and ELPS gas pipeline in the eastern axis.

“The NNPC had explained at the meeting that repair works were being intensified even as it expressed worry about the integrity of the pipelines on account of incessant damage they have sustained.

“In essence, what has brought about this development is the increased incidence of vandalism, which is beyond the control of the regulator and the industry operators. This situation is further compounded by the industrial action declared by the oil and gas workers.”

In a similar development, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, said it had become necessary to draw the attention of Nigerians to the fact that the strike by both senior and junior staff unions of the NNPC had resulted in the shutdown of major gas plants, including Utorogu, Chevron Oredo and Oben in the western axis.

He said Ughelli and CNL Escravos were already isolated, adding that the shutdown of Shell Gas, Alakiri, on the eastern axis, had caused several power plants to become stranded.

Other power plants that have been shut down, according to Nebo, include Egbin, Olorunshogo I and II, Geregu I and II, Ihonvor and Sapele NIPP plant on the eastern end.

The minister said the overall effect of the workers’ action was that power supply, which had started picking up at the beginning of last week following repairs of various vandalised portions of the Trans-Forcados pipeline, had fallen to an all-time unprecedented low, making life unbearable for Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the management of Ikeja Electric has raised the alarm over what it described as massive drop in power allocated to it from the national grid.

The company, which also apologised to its customers over the state of power supply in the last few weeks, said as of Sunday, allocation to it had dropped to zero megawatts.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ikeja Electric, Mr. Abiodun Ajifowobaje, in a statement on Monday, said the dismal power situation was a challenge across the nation.

He explained that the situation was particularly critical as allocation to Ikeja Electric from the national grid had fallen drastically.

“As of yesterday (Sunday), allocation to Ikeja Electric had been zero megawatts as against 1,250MW required to satisfy our customers. The situation is quite challenging. However, we will do all that is humanly possible within the circumstances and assure all our customers that we will continue to ensure equitable distribution of power received within our network,” Ajifowobaje said.

He said the company had since placed its workers on stringent schedules to ensure that customer issues were promptly addressed via its contact centre and walk-in experience centres.

Ajifowobaje said, “We, on behalf of our customers, plead with the government and all stakeholders to address all issues militating against the availability of power to save lives and boost economic prosperity in Nigeria.

“It is our hope that these issues are resolved so that we can continue to serve our customers without any inhibitions.”

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