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Nigerians Face Bleak Xmas Holidays as Severe Gas Shortages Hit Power Sector
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The already beleaguered power sector faces even more challenges this yuletide season with severe gas shortages hitting a number of the country’s electricity supply assets, THISDAY learnt yesterday.
Aside the breach of the Trans-Forcados pipeline, it was gathered that the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) was battling to revive its gas plant in Ughelli East which is currently down.
Already, the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC), has written some industry players intimating them of the dire development and the likely impact it would have on power supply, especially in the western axis.
In a memo dated December 20, 2021, marked Ref: NDPHC/NIPP/MD/2021 obtained yesterday, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) alerted the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) of the seriousness of the situation.
The official communication seen by THISDAY was signed by the Managing Director of the NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo and was copied the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Titled: “Re: Notice Of Gas Shortage From Nigeria Gas Company,” the NDPHC noted that it had been notified of the breach of the facility, coupled with other technical issues that were affecting gas supplies in the area.
“We have been notified on the 18th of December 2021, by the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC), via an email (Annexure I) of a breach on their gas supply network as well as technical issues affecting gas suppliers on the western axis.
“These challenges have led NGC to issue the notice of gas curtailment arising from the abysmal system pressure levels that must be managed to avoid collapse of the gas grid,” the NDPHC stressed.
Quoting the NGC, the NDPHC stated that the Trans-Forcados Pipeline (TFP) was breached on December 17, 2021, and had impacted Seplat’s production and may further affect other producers if not immediately repaired.
It added: “Also, NGC reported that the NPDC’s Ughelli East plant is currently down while Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL) had also lost a compressor because of technical issues.
“The combined impact of all these issues is a deferment, unavailability to off-takers, of about 250MMscfd of gas from the pipeline network,” the power company noted.
NDPHC Limited has five of its operational power plants viz: Olorunsogo, Omotosho, Sapele, Ihovbor and Geregu, which have all been impacted by the gas curtailment.
It was learnt that while Omotosho National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) has been forced to shut down, Geregu NIPP and Ihovbor are only receiving limited gas volumes, thus leading to part load or low generation operation.
However, in the memo, the management of NDPHC stated that it was monitoring the situation and was committed to ensuring the plants return to full operations as soon as gas supply improves.
Last week, the NERC disclosed that of the country’s 26 power plants, only nine supply 73 per cent of electricity generated and deployed across the nation.
The industry regulator, in its report for the fourth quarter of 2020, said that the situation was of grave concern to the sector as the convergence of generation in a few plants could destabilise supply when they encounter challenges.
While malfunctions are a common feature in the sector, resulting in incessant blackouts, on the average, Nigeria generates roughly 4,000 megawatts for a population of over 200 million.
Within the first seven days of March, Nigeria’s power sector lost about N6.8 billion to challenges related to insufficient gas supply to electricity generation companies (Gencos), while in 2020, the sector lost N1.71 billion in just one day over the challenge.
Ironically, Nigeria holds the largest natural gas reserves in Africa — and the ninth-largest globally, with an estimate of 206 trillion cubic feet (tcf), but with little investment, only a little is tapped.
The country’s gas reserves exceed its crude oil reserves, although over the years oil has had all the attention, while the gas reserves were left to waste.