‘It Will Cost 150% More To Produce Power With Light Crude’

Ghana will spend 150 per cent more to purchase light crude to power its thermal plants to generate power following the suspension of gas supplies from the West African Gas Pipeline Company in Nigeria.According to the Head of Corporate Communications of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Mr Sam Fletcher, it costs more to run power plants on light crude than gas.Labour unrest in Nigeria has forced the West African Gas Pipeline Company to suspend the supply of gas to Ghana.“It will cost us more to purchase light crude to power our thermal plants. We hope our plants will not run for a long time on light crude because that will amount to increasing cost of production.“Our other major challenge is that we have lost 180 megawatts of power because the Asogli plant, which operates on only gas, has been shutdown as a result of the suspension of the gas flow,” he said.Mr Fletcher gave an assurance in an interview with the Daily Graphic that the VRA was doing everything possible within its means to produce more power to meet the energy needs of Ghanaians.For his part, the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, said public education on energy conservation would be intensified in the coming weeks as part of measures to moderate the negative effects of the suspension of gas supplies from Nigeria to Ghana.Households will save 20 per cent electricity which will translate into savings when energy is conserved.“We are embarking on an intensive and serious campaign to conserve energy at all levels to save the Akosombo Dam and other power generating plants in the country,” he said.While conceding the Energy Commission (EC) was currently rolling out energy conservation programmes across the country, Mr Buah indicated that “under the present circumstance, the education will have to be intensified.”Gas flow from the West African Gas Pipeline project was stopped with effect from Tuesday, September 16, 2014 due to labour unrest in that country.“It is unfortunate that the Nigerian authorities have stopped the flow of gas from Nigeria to Ghana as a result of labour unrest in that country. This will affect us adversely because the Asogli Power Plant, which runs on only gas, will have to be shut down,” Mr Buah said.Apart from the suspension of gas flow from Nigeria, the water level in the Akosombo Dam as of September 15, 2014 was 74.615 metres instead of the maximum operating level of 84.73 metres.Meanwhile, the country’s thermal plants are currently operating at lower capacity due to maintenance schedules, delay in crude oil supply and other factors.The periodic load-shedding exercise has been introduced, to the discomfort of individuals and businesses, and the current situation will further aggravate issues.Energy conservation, Mr Buah explained, was the immediate tool being explored by the ministry and its agencies to preserve power.He said aside from saving cost, energy conservation would go a long way to protect the environment, which was currently reeling under global warming.He said it was clearly cheaper, safer and more efficient to preserve energy than the inherent cost associated with excessive use of energy.Mr Buah said the ministry and other government agencies would do all in their power to preserve Ghana’s energy sector, but indicated that all would come to nought if Ghanaians did not comply with energy saving tips.“The EC, in the coming weeks, will intensify its ongoing energy conservation campaign. We, therefore, urge all Ghanaians to adhere to the guidelines for their own benefit and that of the entire country,” the minister pleaded.He, accordingly, advised consumers to put off all electrical gadgets when not in use, as well as purchase electrical appliances in conformity with guidelines set out by the EC.Mr Buah said efforts were being made by the gas task force to bring on stream gas from the Atuabo gas plant as quickly as possible.Thermal plants in the country are also expected to be powered by the gas which will flow from the Atuabo Gas Plant.Additionally, two power barges expected to generate a total of 450 MW are being built in Turkey and are expected to be shipped to Ghana before the end of the second quarter of 2015.Meanwhile, the first power barge, which has a capacity of 225 MW, has been constructed. There was an eight-month break in gas supplies from Nigeria to Ghana after a vessel broke one of the gas pipelines in Togo in August 2012.Ghana’s demand for electricity is between 1,800 and 2,000 MW, but it is targeting 5,000 MW by 2016. It wants to have enough to export to other West African countries by the end of 2016. Source; Graphic online



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