By Clara Nwachukwu
Cross Rivers State Governor, Mr. Liyel Imoke, has called on the Federal Government to review the current natural gas pricing template, saying that current structure had over the years remained a major disincentive to the gas to power programme and attendant electricity supply shortages in the country.
Imoke, a former Minister of Power, told journalists in Calabar, the state capital, that he came short of referring to those opposed to the upward review of gas prices as hypocrite, noting that it has become apparent that current gas pricing is not only unsustainable but also unprofitable, thus leading to the recurrent supply issues with producers.
He described the prevailing natural gas price as “charitable” and noted “investors were no charity organizations” as their operations revolved around making returns on their investments.
He said it was important for the government and relevant stakeholders to understand that until appropriate pricing is fixed, it would be difficult to expect improved power generation and supply in the country.
Generation, at present, stands at an abysmal 3,200 megawatts, and in the past two months, the ugly trend had led to power outages in most parts of the country as officials of PHCN battle to ration the meager generated power to millions of Nigerians.
Imoke argued that if gas prices were not reviewed, it would equally take a toll on new power projects currently under execution.
”We cannot be doing the same thing over and over again, year-in and year-out and expect not to get the same results,” Imoke said on the failure to review gas prices to favor producers’ interests.
”We cannot avoid the fact that we need to sit down and review the current gas policy and deregulation. There is the need for us to come to terms with this fact and understand that just like crude oil and petrol we must get prices that favor producers and consumers alike. The current gas price doesn’t promote gas development by investors and that is the reality.
”Investors will not deliver gas to electricity customers as charitable initiative. So there is need to change or review the methodologies to allow them do business and then ca we expect to also have better results electric generation,” he added.
Imoke lauded the management of Kaztec Engineering Limited, an indigenous firm for pace of work at the Adanga/Calabar gas metering and pipeline project in the state, noting that when the projects are completed and brought on stream, they would lead to a massive turnaround of the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor, who undertook a tour of the projects said electricity remained pivotal to the growth of the nation’s economy, adding that it was for this reason that some states invested in power projects.
According to him, the Cross Rivers state government was working alongside the Federal Ministry of Finance and a foreign investor to improve the quality of power generated in the state.
”If Kaztec completes these projects as they are billed, it will have a tremendous impact on the economy of the state and its industrialization” Imoke added.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Kaztec, Sir Emeka Offor, expressed confidence that that his company will complete the pipeline projects on time despite some challenges it is facing.
In particular, he expressed satisfaction with the work progress and the workforce, noting that “the local content value in the projects execution is very high in line with Federal Government’s aspirations on Nigerian content development, as the projects are being executed with very minimal expatriates.”
He added that at the rate the company was going, Kaztec would be able to use 100 percent local content for its projects within the next three years, while attributing the level of success so far achieved to the peaceful and cordial relationships existing between the company and its host communities. “We do not have any community issues because the communities along our pipelines right of way have been very cooperative, and we equally thank the state government for their support.”
With regard to the challenges encountered in the execution of the projects, Offor attributed these mainly to some unresolved offshore issues, adding that the aspects relating to the National Integrated Power Projects, NIPP, are expected to be resolved within the next two months at the latest.