Nigerians will continue to contend with erratic power supply for the time being as gas shortage, caused by pipeline vandalism, continues to hamper power generation at the different thermal plants in the country.
Power generation had dropped by 1,598 megawatts on Sunday as eight electricity generating stations were hit by gas shortage caused by vandalism of two gas pipelines.
The Egbin/AES, Olorunsogo, Omotoso, Geregu NIPP, Afam IV and VI plants as well as Rivers State Independent Power Station, affected by the gas supply shortage, as at the time of filing this report on Monday, were working far below their installed capacities.
Egbin, the biggest power generation plant in the country with an installed capacity of 1,320MW, was said to be generating only 300MW of electricity.
A source at the station confirmed that only three out of the six units were currently running due to gas supply shortages.
This has led to increased load shedding in most parts of the country. Our correspondents gathered that the situation might not improve until the vandalised gas pipelines were fixed.
The General Manager, Public Affairs, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr. Dave Ifabiyi, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Monday, said, “If two major gas pipelines are vandalised, you can be sure that the pressure of gas being supplied to the thermal stations will be very low.
“The buck does not stop at our table because the Nigerian Gas Company is the one responsible for gas supply, and the NGC is having challenges right now. If they are able to sort it out, then the situation will improve.”
In the same vein, the Chief Executive Officer, Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Mike Uzoigwe, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone, said, “I am well aware that we have been restricted in term of gas supply. We are waiting for NGC or the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to carry out repairs on the vandalised pipelines, and once that is done, we will be able to go to full production.”
However, the Chief Executive Officer, NGC, Mr. Saidu Mohammed, could not be reached for comments as to when the vandalised pipelines would be repaired.
He neither picked calls made to his telephone line nor respond to text messages sent to the number.
TCN had said in a statement on Sunday that NGC was working seriously to isolate the vandalised portions of the pipelines in order to effect repairs, with the hope that gas supply could be restored to the affected generating stations soonest.
Only when this is done will power generation and supply in the country improve, according to experts, who spoke with our correspondents on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo; and Minister of State for Power, Ms. Zainab Kuchi, have rated the Power Holding Company of Nigeria very low, while condemning man-made factors limiting progress in the power sector.
Nebo declared on Monday that the country was undergoing very difficult moments in the power sector.
The minister said this at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Power in Abuja, while receiving a report containing recommendations on how to address the incessant system collapse that had characterised the power sector in recent times.
He said, “We are facing very difficult times in the power sector. It will interest you to know that some of the problems are man-made such as poor maintenance habit, vandalism, sabotage and poor funding.
“For instance, we lost close to 1,600MW of power at the weekend on account of vandalism. Our gas pipelines were vandalised and this knocked off our power plants. We urge our compatriots to stop such acts and behaviours that undermine the growth and development of our nation.”
In her address, Kuchi lamented that the nation’s power situation was very bad.
“The power situation is very bad in this country and we need to run faster than we can to meet up. We will give the recommendations our best shot and hope to address the issues as soon as possible,” she said.
The Chairman of the 13-member Technical Investigative Panel on System Collapse, Mr. Fatai Olapade, said unqualified personnel at the TCN were contributing to the problems in the sector.
He said, “TCN, for the past 17 years, has not been employing people. Most of the operators are old and some of them are inexperienced; they need to be trained. So, there should be capacity building.
“But all other issues are purely technical; like communication and others. The most important part of it is the vegetation. We are in the rainy season and there are some trees that grow so fast that when wind blows, they can touch the lines and cause transient fault.”
The Federal Government inaugurated the panel two weeks ago and mandated it to come up with recommendations on how to tackle the problems in the sector.
Olapade said Nigeria’s power sector recorded three system collapses within the period of the panel’s assignment.
“If something is causing a fault, we should have protective devices to ensure that the system is stabilised. The committee looked at it and we have made recommendations on what will be done to ensure that when we have these kinds of problems, they can easily be arrested,” he added.
Information from Punch was used in this report.