Not minding the other challenges of Nigeria’s electricity sector, Chineme Okafor reports that the shortfall in gas supply and limitations of distribution networks were the two major constraints that continued to constrain power output in the first quarter of the year

Between January 2 and May 4, a period of about 123 days, and which marks the first quarter of 2018, available statistics on the state of affairs of Nigeria’s electricity industry indicated that two major constraints kept the industry on its toes.

Through these two specific constraints, which are gas supply deficits and distribution limitations, the sector has lost volumes of financial benefits that should have come to it, as well as energy that could have been generated and sent to consumers.

Combined with few cases of transmission and water management constraints, gas supply shortfalls and distribution limitations have, according to data obtained by THISDAY from the Advisory Power Team in the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, resulted in the loss of about 316,908 megawatts of electricity and circa N152.116 billion in revenue within Q1 2018.

On the average, the data indicated that circa 2,574.4MW of electricity was not available every day to Nigerians within the first 123 days or Q1 of 2018, while about N1.236 billion was also not gained within the period.
From THISDAY’s evaluative interactions with industry experts, these figures indicated the challenges of Nigeria’s power sector may have continued to stick with it irrespective of the federal government’s efforts in the sector so far.

Average data on constraints
From the data, the sector on January 2, 2018, recorded an average production of 3,475MW, down by 495MW from what was produced the previous day, and recorded a gas constraint figure of 2675.4MW, as well as line constraint of 58MW.
The sector continued to record gas constraints afterwards and on January 23, 2018 could not generate 2257MW on account of gas constraints.

A total of 164MW was not generated due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, while 291MW was not generated due to high frequency, resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure and 290MW was not generated due to unavailability of water.

At the end of January, 1189MW was not generated by the sector due to unavailability of gas, while 560MW was not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure, 290MW was not generated due to unavailability of water.
Going into February, the sector continued to record gas and distribution constraints and according to the data, 4,063MW was generated on February 13, while 2044MW was not generated due to unavailability of gas and 288MW not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure.

About 555MW was also not generated due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure and 145MW not generated due to unavailability of water.
On February 25 2018, the average power sent out was 3,801MW, while 1102MW was not generated due to unavailability of gas. Constraints from transmission and distribution resulted to the unavailability of 37MW and 1379.5MW of electricity respectively.

The sector continued to record constraints and on March 1, its constraints were collectively put at 2,123MW while 4,157MW was generated. Further into the month, another 2,071MW of electricity could not be put on the grid because of the constraints which gas supply and distribution infrastructure deficits dominated.

By the end of March, a total of 75,831MW which indicated an average of 2,446MW per day could not be generated to the national grid because of majorly gas and distribution constraints experienced by the sector.

Going further into April, the sector logged in a cumulative constraints record of 69,115MW, representing an average daily record of 2,304MW for the period. Its details indicated for instance that on April 17, the average power sent out was 4,170MW but 992MW was not generated due to unavailability of gas, 164.1MW due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, and 490MW due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure. Water management constraints equally ensured that 190MW was not generated.

Again, on April 25, 4,078.79MW was generated to the grid, while 1,738.5MW was not due to unavailability of gas, 40MW due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, and 1,092.1MW was due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure. 190MW was not generated due to water management.

From the records also, constraints associated to gas and distribution limitations appeared to pick up in April when on 26, records showed that it did not slowdown with 4,326MW sent out while 1,626MW was not generated due to unavailability of gas, 40MW due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, and 1,075.5MW not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure. 190MW was not generated due to water management on that day.

Between April 28 and 29, 4,111MW and 4,112MW were generated respectively, while 1,626MW and 1,626MW were equally not generated due to unavailability of gas respectively. Transmission constraints for both days were 40MW apiece while 889MW 1,018.4MW were not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure. 95MW and 190MW were also respectively not generated within both days due to water management.

Going into May, the constraints continued to affect the productivity of the sector following its inability to generate 1,513MW as a result of unavailability of gas, 197.8MW due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, 1,905MW due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure and 95MW due to water management. However, 3,402MW was generated and sent to the grid on that day.

Again, on May 4, the average power sent out to the grid was 3,582MW, while 1,612MW was not generated due to unavailability of gas, 40MW due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, while 1,218MW was not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure and 95MW not generated due to water management.

Gas constraints

THISDAY also observed that the gas supply constraints was recorded by the sector despite the N701 billion Payment Assurance Guarantee (PAG), which the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sustain payments to gas-to-power producers or suppliers in the country.
The paper had reported that a government memo it obtained on the working details of the N701 billion had indicated that the NBET would ensure constant payments of gas supply invoices of suppliers to generation companies (Gencos) so that they (Gencos) could continue to generate power to the grid.

“NBET enters into an agreement to borrow from the CBN through the Ministry of Finance the sum of up to N701, 936,483,451, only for disbursement over a two-year period and repayable over a 10-year period for the purpose of implementing the payment assurance program that guarantees energy payments for all electricity generation and gas supply companies on the national grid,” said the memo.

The memo also noted that the money which the CBN loaned to the NBET would have to be repaid to it over a period of 10 years by the NBET, and that with it, gas supplies to the Gencos would be firm and stable. The recorded constraints in Q1 however do not suggest this has happened.

NERC promises proactive changes
Obviously aware of these challenges, the new chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof. James Momoh, who was last week inaugurated by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in Abuja, indicated the regulator would going forward, adopt fresh approach to solving the challenges of the sector.

Momoh, explained that he understood the challenges of the sector, and would look to use some good scientific approaches to getting them solved.
“I brought with me, the knowledge, experience that I have, wisdom about power engineering and of course, ability to work in teams, and to address quick wins – what can we do with respect to what we heard about estimated metering, how do we make sure that we get enough data so that customers are also convinced to pay for the power they use based on what we provide,” said Momoh.

He further explained: “At the same time, we will bring to the industry what are the best practices to ensure that we have quality supply and reliable power. What we bring to the sector is also ensuring that there is innovation in the industry because if we remain the same and remain static, and not solve real problems, we will just be doing fire-brigade., the Gencos will tell you there is a blackout without knowing why. We are going to ask the questions – for me, I know why because I know the mathematics and economics behind it.
“If we are able to teach people to know things go wrong, perhaps we will learn from our mistakes. We will look back and use lessons learnt yesterday to solve tomorrow’s problems. We must begin to anticipate problems so that we can provide solutions,” he added.