• Friday, May 24, 2024
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NNPC, power minister continue blame game over gas supply for power

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The blame game between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Chinedu Nebo, professor and minister of power over the availability of gas has continued as NNPC has attributed the current dismal performance of the power sector to the transmission system which is weak and not because of lack of gas supply.

Nebo had told reporters in Abuja that gas supply constraint has been responsible for the inability to wheel available generation to the grid for transmission and distribution to Nigerians, which the NNPC said is not correct.

But David Ige, the group executive director, Gas and Power, NNPC, who spoke on the sidelines at the recently concluded Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas debunked the claims of the minister stating emphatically that there is enough gas for the power sector to utilise.

“Currently, there is enough gas to meet generation demand but the transmission system has some temporary and short term challenges making it unable to evacuate available power.”

The NNPC boss said Nebo’s comment should be made in context because right now an average Nigerian that doesn’t see light shouldn’t blame it on gas supply even though there is more generating capacity than gas supply. “If the transmission is fixed the available gas can generate and distribute 4.7 gigawatts (GW) now. We achieved 4.5GW sometime last year and I must tell you our gas supply has continued to increase since then. The issue now is dealing with short term transmission problem,” he added.

He said that actually the available gas is inadequate for all the power plants being put in place, which is an issue the corporation recognises and is working hard to address but noted that it is incorrect to say that insufficient supply of gas is responsible for power supply problems now. He said that some of the available gas is shut-in because there is no generating plant that needs gas.

“I think the focus now is on power transmission to enable available generation capacity to be effectively wheeled into the grid. Even as we speak, we still have some gas volumes that cannot get to the plants. We have grown gas supply significantly to the highest ever. Not all the gas that is available for power is actually being consumed because of power transmission challenges,” he said. “There are still other issues because the generation capacity is growing every day because new turbines are being brought every day. So I can say for sure that our current gas availability is not enough for all the generating plants that are being put in place and we recognise that because at any point in time demand will always be ahead of supply because demand is pulling supply, which is normal.

“So the two key messages I want to drive is that we have increased supply significantly and a lot of that supply is reaching the market. Nigerians will see the significant improvement. But there are temporary challenges with the power transmission, which the government is working very hard on.

“If the transmission is fixed, there will be an immediate improvement in supply. Right now, the restrain is not in gas. But as soon as that is done, the next bottleneck comes because generation is ahead of others in the value chain. If all the available gas is used, Nigerians will see significant improvement but then the generation will still require more gas as it increases.

“We have additional programmes in place. By the end of this year we are bringing additional 130 million cubic feet per day and over the next two years we will bring additional 600 million to one billion cubic feet per day. We will continue to chase generation.

“We have enough gas to meet most of the generating capacities that existed at the time the Minister of Petroleum Resources declared the gas emergency programme last year, so we have been able to meet those demands but a couple of new plants are coming on stream and are being commissioned.

For instance, Ihonbor and Geregu NIPP plants, are new ones of which we are gradually bringing gas to meet them.”