• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Egbin Power receives FG’s assurance on debt settlement, improved gas supply

Power minister eyes CBN FX allocation to ramp up sector capacity

Adebayo Adelabu, the minister of power has affirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to gradually offset the debt owed Nigeria’s largest power generation company, Egbin Power, starting next month April, while noting that constraints of gas supply and foreign exchange are also being tackled.

This was made known during the Minister’s visit to the power plant as part of his measures to strengthen understanding among stakeholders, support to players, and address the challenges in the sector, with the overall aim of boosting power supply in Nigeria.

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While affirming the commitment, the Minister said: “The Federal Government is prioritising paying down on the outstanding debt and I have assured the board and management of Egbin Power that, effective April we will start paying as a form of encouragement to continue to have them in operations.”

Regarding the constraints encountered by power generation companies in accessing foreign exchange, the minister explained that crucial steps are being taken to prioritise the allocation of forex to the power generation companies.

“Forex sourcing has been a major constraint to effective maintenance of the facility. I have seen what we have on the ground here, and the critical need for spares and tools for continuous maintenance. We will liaise with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to prioritize Foreign Exchange allocation to the power sector.

“This will ensure the companies can ramp up capacity in terms of output. It is not just peculiar to Egbin Power Plant, it is across all the power generating Plants. They need Forex for them to be able to maintain the turbines and replace tools and spares. This has been a major issue. I am going to take steps to ensure I liaise with the CBN to see how they can prioritize Forex allocation to the power generating companies,” the minister said.

While speaking on challenges of gas supply, he explained that engagements were held with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and gas suppliers as part of measures to guarantee payment of debts and resolution of the gas constraints.

“Gas shortage has impeded almost all our gas power plants. And we already had a conversation with the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources. We are also meeting with the gas suppliers to plead with them and have an understanding that the FG is prepared to start paying down the debt that we owe the gas supply companies.

“We need to make some cash injection in terms of payments, we want to give them some guaranteed debt instruments in terms of promissory notes. And we are looking at allowing them access to Nigerian gas wells. So that this will be used to defray the outstanding debt of the gas suppliers over time,” he explained.

The minister commended the board and management team of Egbin Power for its robust investment to improve, sustain and maintain the Plant’s infrastructure and facility while contributing largely to the sector despite the challenges.

While stressing on the impact of the debt and gas constraints on the Plant, Mokhtar Bounour, the chief Executive Officer of Egbin Power said: “One of the major challenges we are facing is gas constraint, which is not allowing us to run the full capacity of the Plant. It requires a lot of investment efforts to keep the units running and safe.

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“The other issue is the accumulated debt which the Minister discussed with us. On our part we are adequately ensuring the maintenance, availability of the Plant and its efficiency. We are investing a lot to get these units to run optimally. This requires millions of dollars in investment,” Bounour explained.

He commended the minister for his commitment to address the challenges. “We highlighted the challenges we are facing, and the Federal Government, through the Minister of Power, has promised to start solving them gradually so we can start seeing improvements shortly. We hope that the liquidity challenge will be solved soon as the Minister has promised,” Bounour added.