450MW Azura Power Plant to Come on Stream Eight Months Ahead of Schedule


• NERC approves 40-day connection timeline for customers by Discos
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Barring any unforeseen developments, the 450 megawatts (MW) Azura-Edo independent power plant currently being built by Azura Power Holdings and its co-shareholders would come on stream and begin to generate that amount of electricity into Nigeria’s national grid by the first week of May 2018, its Managing Director, Dr. David Ladipo, has disclosed.

Ladipo stated during a tour of the project site by a team of project monitoring officials from the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) on yesterday in Benin, that the planned commissioning of the plant’s operations and generation of its electricity into the grid would be achieved almost eight months ahead of the construction timeline it reached with the NBET in its Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

He said already, relevant works required to get the plant ready for the May 2018 commissioning have continued to advance and that its first fires would be achieved in December 2017.
According to him, the eight months cutback in project completion timeline was made possible because it competitively procured the best contractors for the job, in addition to instituting a transparent management of work schedules on the project which he noted its contractors started work on in January 2016.

“We expect to come on stream in May 2018, and that is nearly eight months ahead of the completion timeline we agreed with the NBET. We will achieve our first fire in December, and then by May, we would be on the grid,” said Ladipo.
He further stated: “Typically, around the world and not just in Nigeria, projects delivery come in late, and it is human nature because we are always more optimistic than being realistic, and it is the same for contractors.

He explained that access to a secure and reliable source of gas for the plant was already guaranteed by Seplat from the country’s main gas trunkline – the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS), in addition to a transmission evacuation loop that connects to the country’s transmission highway at the existing Benin main substation and the new Benin North substation.
Similarly, Ladipo, noted that at peak periods, the number of workers on the site shoot up to 1400, to ensure that the delivery time was kept.

Equally, to keep tab on the project, the NBET stated that it engaged the department of engineering of the University of Benin as consultant, to work with its joint project monitoring team. It said the engagement of the university has also helped its engineering students gain immense insights into the practical aspects of power plants construction.
Azura’s PPA with the NBET is backed by the federal government, and World Bank Group which provides a Partial Risk Guarantee (PRG) programme and political risk insurance placed by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the bank, both of which ensures the project’s bankability.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed that the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in the country would now have a timeline of just 40 days to connect new customers willing to get connected to their networks.
Fashola, stated in a communique from the October edition of the monthly power sector operators’ meeting in Owerri, that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has passed a  regulation that has reduced the time for connection of new customers from 145 days to 40 days.
He noted that the new regulation was part of the government’s regulation on the ease of doing business in Nigeria, and that Discos must comply with it.

The minister also explained in the communique that the ministry was compiling the estimate of investment required by the Discos to absorb an additional 2000MW of electricity that could be generated by the generation companies into their 33Kv networks, to ensure that more power gets to their customers.
The government, he added, would also review the possible financing solutions for this investment with the Discos.