The Federal Government has embarked on massive gas rationing to ensure that the product gets to all thermal plants as a result of limited supply accessioned by the continued shut down of the western axis pipeline.
The measure is target at ensuring that the nation’s limited gas supply is maximised as much as possible to generate electricity in the nation pending the rehabilitation of the western axis gas pipeline. A source in the Ministry of Power who confirmed the development yesterday stated that gas supply to the stations has fallen by at least 50 per cent because of the vandalism of the pipeline at various points. Despite the rationing, electricity generation has reduced by almost half in all the stations.
For instance, available statistics showed that the Egbin thermal plant, the biggest power station in Africa, which has the capacity to generate over 1,000 megawatts, mw now generates only 700mw.
The Chief Executive Officer of Egbin Power Station, Mr. Mike Uzoigwe who confirmed the generation level stated in a telephone interview yesterday that, “We can do more, but we are presently generating 700mw of electricity.
The output of Egbin and others which hovered at over 4,500mw a few months ago have dropped to a little over 3,000mw, which is grossly inadequate considering the 10,000mw estimated daily national demand. The situation, it was learnt was worsened by transmission losses and distribution challenges in different parts of the nation.
It was learnt that the Manitoba Hydro International Limited, MHI of Canada that has the mandate to reduce eliminate losses and maximise the transmission of electricity for distribution nationwide has not yet lied up to expectation.
The Chairman, Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation, Mr. Atedo Peterside stated, “Transmission is the “lifeblood” of this entire electricity “eco-system” and it is also potentially the “weakest link” at present. I am reliably informed that, currently, stranded capacity due to transmission evacuation constraints is in the region of 100 MW.
He stated, “The ability of TCN to catch up with generation availability and also keep pace with future expansion will depend on its continued access to financing for its huge capex needs and also its ability to execute and rigorously monitor project implementation to high professional standards. Peterside stated, “The latter will inspire confidence and open the door to even more funding.
Conversely, if that confidence is lost early on, then “third party financing” will dry up and the burden of financing TCN’s expansion will fall on the Federal Government of Nigeria He stated, “Unfortunately, the Board of TCN has not yet gotten its act together.
Since the appointment of a Chairman and some initial board members was first announced some months ago, so much time appears to have been lost in squabbling over who does what, when and how. If TCN does not deliver the goods in 2014, there will be a “crisis of sorts” when the ten NIPP power plants come on stream.
[Udeme Akpan, National Mirror]