Big Relief In Power Supply By Oct — Buah

The Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, has given an assurance that Ghanaians will witness a big relief in the present power situation when gas from the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant starts flowing by the last quarter of this year. He said gas from Atuabo would minimise the volume and the cost of crude oil the country imported to power its thermal plants. According to him, in addition to the gas from Atuabo, other complementary projects, such as the Tweneboah-Enyenra-Ntomme (TEN) and the Sankofa gas processing plants, were expected to produce about 300 million cubic feet of gas. He said the government planned to bring all those projects on stream within the next three to four years to power thermal plants that would be built by investors, saying, “The future of the country’s energy needs lies in gas.” Mr Buah, who was speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview yesterday, said engineers had been working overtime to restore a number of thermal plants that had broken down back online. With optimism, he said, “There is real hope,” adding that the ministry was working to “address the challenge we are facing for power to stay on for the people of Ghana”. Growing demand He said power demand by the country was growing very fast, by-passing the projected 10 per cent annual growth and currently standing at 12 per cent. That, he said, implied that the country had to add 200 megawatts of power to its pool every year, in addition to the requirement to have 20 per cent of power in the reserves. “This means we should be having 400 megawatts of power as reserve, but because of our very slim margin, anytime we have a hitch or we plan to do maintenance or a plant goes off, we have to do load shedding,” he explained. The major thermal plants in the Aboadze enclave, he said, produced 550 megawatts of power, but currently only 100 megawatts was being generated due to damage to some units. Those, he said, were being repaired, with projections that some of the units would not be restored till the end of July this year. The Bui Dam, Mr Buah said, had the capacity to generate 400 megawatts of power and was supposed to give off at least 200 megawatts to help the situation. However, he said unfortunately, the water level had gone so low that it was generating 100 megawatts, which was further reduced to 90 megawatts at peak times. He said the ministry had acquired new thermal plants which should generate an additional 110 megawatts of power in Takoradi, 220 at Kpong and an emergency power ship which would add another 200 megawatts. Long-term measure As a long-term measure to forestall future power crisis, the ministry, he said, had laid down a comprehensive yearly addition of power generation to ensure consistency in adding power to the national pool. “While doing this, we are also focusing on another critical aspect of the issue that aims at looking for cheaper fuel to power our thermal systems,” he announced. That, he said, was because the future of power generation was now thermal-based, adding that such generation of power would be more sustainable with access to cheaper fuel. “We are working on having a supply of liquified natural gas (LNG) from long distance. All these are being done because, ultimately, we want the cost of electricity to be cheaper for Ghanaians,” he asserted. Investment As a nation, he said, it was imperative to stay focused in investing in the energy sector to realise annual increments in power production in a consistent manner. To do that, he stressed the need for modernisation and expansion of the transmission and distribution infrastructure and to bring real demand side management into the usage of electricity. “This is how we can all look back and say we have overcome the crisis,” he opined. Indebtedness The government, he said, owed the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) over GH¢1 billion which it was working to clear. He said the debt would not be paid for another to be created and underscored the need to intensify moves aimed at sanitising the use of power within the government set up. Ghana, he said, had a contractual agreement with Ngas of Nigeria for the latter to supply 123 million cubic feet of gas every day through the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), but that had not been the case, saying Nigeria had adduced a number of reasons, including the vandalisation and damage to its pipelines, apart from its own need for gas. “We are in a very serious crisis that has a debilitating effect on industry, but we are working and challenging our experts to work overtime to address the challenge in a holistic manner,” Mr Buah added.