June 13, 2009

How FG plans to salvage power situation

* More contracts for generation, transmission and distribution
* Foreign  investors coming to utilise coal for generation

By Jide Ajani

The Federal Government plansthe award of more contracts    in the Power Sector in addition to the ones signed last week.  It is also inviting foreign investors to come and utilize the coal deposits in the country for power generation, Sunday Vanguard can reveal authoritatively.

The contracts already awarded are in the areas of generation, transmission and distribution.
While the new contracts would be for hydro-thermal stations, it was gathered that states like Enugu, Gombe, Kogi and Benue are being considered for the coal-to-power project.

Sunday Vanguard also gathered that hundreds of transformers are already being cleared from the Lagos Ports while more are being procured.

Samshudeen Usman (right) and the Minister for Power, Rilwan Babalola at the Federal Executive Council Meeting in Abuja,last week.

Minister for National Planning, Dr. Samshudeen Usman (right) and the Minister for Power, Rilwan Babalola at the Federal Executive Council Meeting in Abuja, last week.

Chief Executive Officer of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, Engineer H. S. Labo, told Sunday Vanguard that whereas details of the posers raised may not be immediately made available, “many more transformers are already being manufactured to meet the dire needs of the moment.” Sunday Vanguard had sought clarification on the contracts awarded last Wednesday and Thursday, and the confirmation of the massive importation of transformers to meet the needs of Nigerians.

Engineer Labo in response stated that “the fact that the FEC had to meet again on Thursday, which is very rare (and all day for that matter) is a testament to the high priority President Umar Yar’Adua attaches to the power situation.” The power situation in the country is already at a very embarrassing stage now, suggesting that the present administration may either be at a loss regarding what to do, or that Nigerians are just being punished, to which the PHCN chief executive officer declared:  “We are on course and I want to assure Nigerians that President Yar’Adua is very committed to solving this problem”.

Sunday Vanguard had exclusively published that President Yar’Adua at a meeting gave his minister of power, Lanre Babalola a blank cheque, charging him to ensure that the targeted 6,000 Megawatts is realized by December this year, while the 2011 date for the 10,000 megawatts is not missed.  It was also exclusively revealed that the power situation in the country had led to sleepless nights for President Yar’Adua. The PHCN CEO in throwing light on the award of the contracts by the FEC said: “Council at its meeting last week Wednesday and Thursday during an extra ordinary sitting approved the award of various contracts in generation, transmission and distribution in order to improve power supply to the Nation by December 2009 and beyond.

The projects are:“Generation:  This is primarily to increase generation capacity to the existing available capability of about 4,200MW.

*Sapele Thermal Power Station: The contract that was approved for award was for evacuation of power from the new plant under construction. On completion about 120MW will be added to the System from the first of four units by end of the fourth quarter of 2009 while the other 3 will follow at intervals of about six weeks.

*Alaoji Thermal Power Station: The contract that was approved for award are for the construction of Ramp and Jetty at the Imo river bridge in order to facilitate the transportation of the heavy turbines(over 350metric tons) for the power plant. On completion the power plant will have a total generation capacity of 1,074MW

*Afam Thermal Power Station:  Contract for the rehabilitation of one of the units was approved for award last week Wednesday. The works is to restore the rated capacity of the unit to 75MW. Transmission: primarily this is to increase the capability of the transmission Grid to wheel additional power to the major load centers, reduce technical losses and generally to guarantee quality and reliable electricity supply to the areas.

“The projects cover various parts of the country including: Niger State, Rivers state, Lagos State, Kebbi State and Kano State.  In particular the project in Rivers State at Afam Power Station will in addition provide addition security to the network in Afam Station to evacuate the additional power from the new Afam VI power station by Shell.

Similarly, the project in Kebbi State at Birnin Kebbi 330/132kV station will not only improve the supply to Kebbi State but also Sokoto state in addition to providing flexibility of operations in the station.

“A lot still needs to be done for the transmission network as can be seen from the existing and proposed transmission Grid maps attached. Completion of projects in the proposed transmission grid map will among others ensure better quality of power by providing alternative source of supply to any major load center.

The aim is to ensure that no major load center is more than 70km from a bulk power station in addition to having at least 2 sources of supply.

“Distribution: this is the inter-face between the customers and the power plants. The need to ensure high quality and reliable power the distribution network also has to be expanded and rehabilitated.

The contracts that were approved for award were for the major equipment such as transformers, circuit breakers, isolators, etc. these are equipment that are not manufactured in the country yet and in order to ensure quality and standards PHCN under takes to procure them from known and tested  manufacturers. The equipment is for distribution stations in all parts of the country.”

Engineer Labo also explained that part of the efforts of PHCN is now geared towards expansion of its existing networks. He said it was consoling to point out that “unlike power generation equipments which can not just be purchased over the counter, distribution materials can be easily picked off the shelf.”

Last Thursday, after the extra-ordinary meeting of the FEC, Information and communications minister, Professor Dora Akunyili, in the company of Babalola, said: “Award of contract for the manufacture and supply of 20 numbers numerical relay testing equipment complete with accessories and software, plus factory acceptance test and training of two number transmission companies of Nigeria Engineers worth N46.4 million plus Euro 994,660 at prevailing exchange rate during the time of payment was ratified by council.

“Council also ratified President Yar’Adua’s approval on the recommendation of the National Integrated Power Project Steering Council which involves contract extension of Kainji 330KV substation, construction of 1 by 150 MVA, 330/132KV substation at Kainji and construction of 2 by 30/40 MVA substation at New Bussa in favour of Messrs MBH Power Ltd.” She stated that the contract sum is N1.4 billion plus $14.9 million at the prevailing exchange rate during the time of payment. Completion period is 18 months.

According to her, when completed, the re-enforced substations will contribute to system stability and improve power supply throughout the country. “Another ratification of President Yar’Adua’s approval on the recommendation of NIPP was approved involving contract for the construction of Ikorodu-Odogunyan-Shagamu 132 KV double circuit line, which was awarded in favour of Messrs PPCL/Westcom Joint Venture in the sum of N1.1 billion, Euro 8.9 million”, she added.