By Yemie Adeoye
IN a desperate bid to ensure the availability of the 6000Megawatts of power by the end of the year, the federal government seems to have restored the failed portions of the strategic Escravos-Lagos gas line said to be the only remaining source of gas supply to the thermal plants across the country.
Meanwhile, concerns have continued to mount over the seeming shortage of gas supply to the various thermal power plants across the country.
Not a few players operating in the industry confirmed that the major setback which may hinder the proposed 6000 Mw generation by December is inadequate gas supply.Â According to them the Federal government needs to take a step further and ensure a holistic solution to the Niger-Delta issue before it can guarantee Nigerians uninterrupted supply of power.
At a time when the Government was confident it has about 2400 Mw of power and only requires 3600mw to make up the much anticipated 6000Mw in three months time, the already bad situation was further worsened by the explosion of Utorogu gas line on the 13th of August, the line said to be the only major pipeline supplying gas to power the thermal stations in the country since the sabotage on the Escravos line.
The situation was said to have dealt a big blow on the proposed 6000Mw by December as not less than 1000Mw was lost to the attack.
But in a swift reaction the federal government quickly moved in to assess the damage and also ensure the quick repair of the defunct line.
When contacted the Special Assistant to the Honorable Minister of Power Mr Dejo Odunuga confirmed via a text message response to sweetcrudeâ€™s enquiry that the Utorogu line has been restored, but that the management of the line belongs to the Nigerian Gas Company, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and not the Ministry of power.
It was however not very certain if the restored line has also resulted in a boost of the current power capacity back to 2400Mw as the enquiry sent to the NGC spokesperson Mrs Comfort Adepoju did not get a response as at the time of going to press.
However, stakeholders in the power sector have continued to express fears that inspite of the new Ministerâ€™s effort the much talked-about power generation may not be achieved at the end of the year.
A close source in the power ministry who pleaded anonymity stated that the move to increase the nationâ€™s power generation capacity by the Yarâ€™adua led government is a right step in the right direction, but inadequate supply of gas may be the hindrance to the actualization of the programme.
According to him the upgrading of the power turbines is not enough as extremely necessary at this point is adequate gas supply, but the government is not focusing on this direction, noting that inadequate gas supply is the main cause why the nation has been experiencing power blackout.
Nigeria, which has about 4,000Mw thermalÂ power generation capacity could only generate and distribute a little above 1,000 Mw in the country owing inadequate gas supply.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had said that it has concluded plans with the major oil firms operating in the country to make gas available for the project as part of the steps to actualize the presidential mandate.
According to the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, the corporation would parley and cooperate with its counterpart, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) on the attainment of the set objective.
Besides, sources in the power sector have been saying that the main task before Mr. president now, is to ensure gas availability to power the already existing gas turbines in the country, as part of his efforts to boost power supply in the country.
This move, according to them, would renew the confidence of the stakeholders in the power sector and the Nigerian public as a whole.
They noted that the nationâ€™s gas turbines are in deteriorating conditions due to inadequate gas availability, and this has resulted to a waste of the multi billion naira investment in the power sector.
To them, if adequate moves are not taken by the government to arrest the current situation in the country, a lot of firms in the would close shop and this would deter foreign investors from participating in the nationâ€™s power sector, even as it also results in a huge loss of revenue to the nation.
Another source recently disclosed to Vanguard that two of the major oil firms, which supply gas to the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), are currently battling with issues of vandalism on its pipelines by militants in the Niger Delta region. This has also resulted to the companyâ€™s inability of meeting its gas supply obligations.
In a telephone chat with the Executive Managing Director, Chaste Mutual Investment Limited Mr. Ayo Olatunde in Lagos recently he said that the construction of another power plant by the government to increase the nationâ€™s power generation is of no use, noting that the need to look at alternative energy to boost the power generation in the country should be the governmentâ€™s priority.
According to him, setting up power plant now in the country is not the best strategy to solve the issue of electricity in the country. â€œwhy is the government embarking on this project, when there is no infrastructure programme in placeâ€? he queried.
He said that renewable energy and other sources of energy would boost the nationâ€™s power sector, adding that it is time the country commence sourcing for solar, coal, wind to support the existing power plants
â€œThe government is aware that gas infrastructure is not there. So why are they embarking on a plant that would not work. The government is fully aware that there is no gas infrastructure in the country. So, I donâ€™t know how the 6,000mw power generation would work in this countryâ€, he enthused.