Two contenders of the December elections, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have clashed over the claims of the latter that the government will lead the country once again to the load-shedding era known in our local parlance as ‘dumsor’ early next year.
Addressing a press conference last Wednesday, the Policy Advisor to the largest opposition party, Mr Boakye Agyarko, accused the government of failing to demonstrate that it could control the energy crisis.
But the Deputy Minister of Power, Mr John Jinapor, in response to the criticisms, punched holes into the claims of the NPP that the country would recede to the days of the energy crisis in 2017, because of a projected 700 MW deficit as a result of factors like drop in gas supply to reduction in power imports.
The Deputy Power Minister said contrary to the NPP’s predictions, the country had so much electricity at the moment that it was not even operating some of its plants in order to conserve power.
“Dumsor has been fixed and will be a thing of the past. It may have its challenges at the distribution level in terms of one transformer or the other but we have enough contingency plans to resolve that.
“In that last few days, there were some issues with transformers but it has been resolved. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, we should see adequate supply of power to Ghanaians,” he told the Daily Graphic.
“As I speak to you, we have redundant power and some of our thermal plants have been shut down to conserve them. An example is the Kpone Thermal Power Plant (KTPP) which runs on diesel. The Tema Thermal1Power Plant (TT1PP) and the Cenit Thermal Power Plant, with a combined capacity of more than 400 MW could be pushed into the grid when required, but because we have abundant supply of power, we are conserving them,” he said.
He also said the second Karpower Barges 450 MW, Asogli Phase Two, 180MW and a third project would add up to about 370 MW( next month) could add an extra 1000MW to the country’s energy needs.
“ The Akosombo Dam which had the potential to run six turbines but was running three, in spite of this, the water level in the dam had risen significantly and continues to rise.
“The water level had risen to more than 250 feet (ft). We are way above the minimum operating level and has the laxity to operate all six and even the Bui Dam, we don’t operate all the three, even though it is also high,” he said.
Gas from Nigeria
Mr Agyarko was reported to say that “Gas supply from Nigeria was cut in June 2016 and may not resume soon due to the government’s failure to pay outstanding debts in excess of $160 million,”
But Mr Jinapor shot down the claim and said gas supply from Nigeria could resume in a few weeks to supply gas to the Asogli Plant as the government had met its Nigerian gas creditors to restructure the country’s indebtedness.
He could, however, not state the exact amount the country owed but said the amount would be spread for three to five years, explaining that “We want to have flexible payment terms so that we do not overburden the system.”
FPSO shut down
Mr Agyako stated that per the party’s projection “gas supply from the jubilee field will also stop as the FPSO is expected to shut down for repairs for a period between three to six months,” a situation that would cripple the Asogli and AMERI plants and prevent them from generating adequate electricity.
But responding to the claim, the deputy minister said steps had been taken to ensure that the ministry was taking steps to ensure that in the event the FPSO had to shut down, it would not create a power deficit.
He was, however, quick to point out that several options, including the short term, which was to hold the FPSO in place with two tugboats to continue production was the case now, while taking steps to deal with the Turret problem, including working on turrets, at the current location of the FPSO or taking it to a port.
He said the ministry was waiting for the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation to decide on the option and how long it would take.
The NPP also said that “temporary stability in power supply has been anchored on imports [from Cote d’Ivoire] of an average of 160 megawatts, mainly hydro power, which will not be available when the dry season sets in.”
While Mr Jinapor admitted that the country imported power from Cote d’Ivoire, he said it was purely a strategic decision to conserve the country’s “hydro dams and reduce cost to consumers. We do sometimes take power from Cote d’voire from their hydro source because hydro is cheaper than thermal. It only makes economic sense to conserve your thermal plants and reserve your diesel and tap a bit of their hydro potential”.
He pointed out that Ghana was a member of the West Africa Power Pool, which enjoins countries in the subregion to share energy, hence Ghana exporting power to Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, as well as supplying power at the distribution end to the northern part of Cote d’Ivoire through the Northern Electricity Company (NEDCo).
“What we do is that we take the power at a high voltage, we process it and give them power at low voltage which is the distribution level.
“When you take it at the high level it is cheaper. We are adding value to the power and selling to them. It is like taking a raw material, adding value to it and then selling it,” he explained.
Mr Agyarko has also suggested that the energy situation would worsen because of a “dangerous” agreement government was reaching with China.
“We can disclose that the Mahama Cabinet has recently given approval to a proposal which they hope will entice the China Development Bank to reactivate the remaining $2 billion of the $3 billion Chinese loan,” he alleged.
However, Mr Jinapor pulled out stitches in the claim, insisting that cabinet had not given approval for such a deal but what rather came up was the sale of the bi-products of the gas, which was just one of many other considerations that came up but had not been endorsed by Cabinet.
“We intend to use our gas to fire our thermals plants so that our energy sector uses indigenous gas for both the private sector and state-owned companies,” he said.
Ghana’s most recent epileptic power supply started in 2012 and lasted for almost four years, crippling businesses and putting homes in darkness but several interventions by the government ended the crisis late last year. Before that similar crisis has been recorded in the 1980s, 1998 and 2007.
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