Business News of 2014-04-08

GRIDCO hints of worsening load shedding

Industry and households should brace themselves for the worst as the load-shedding exercise, which has become an albatross on the country, is likely to stay much longer than anticipated.

This is because, the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) has hinted of the possibility of a worse load-shedding exercise in the next three years if urgent measures are not put in place to address erratic supply of gas from Nigeria.

The warning comes in the wake of the reduction in gas supplies from the West Africa Gas Pipeline to power the various power generation plants in the country.

According to the Director of Engineering at GRIDCo, Mr Norbert Anku, the current power supply system will experience generational shortage if additional generation of at least 500 megawatt is not added by early 2016.

Speaking at a business luncheon on power supply to industry in Accra, he said based on the company’s projections for 2014, Ghana was likely to encounter eratic power supply if the gas situation did not change. Power supply situation in 2014

Mr Anku said energy consumption was likely to rise from the 1,942 megawatt in 2013 to 2,179.5 megawatt in 2014, raising the demand level by 12 per cent.

“This means that the country must think of additional ways of generating power to support the increase. For instance, if it doesn’t rain well in Akosombo this year, we would face severe power supply shortages,” he said.

According to Mr Anku, since the recent power shortage is as a result of the no gas supply by Nigeria, the country currently does not have any fuel security, adding that although the Volta River Authority (VRA) has the contractual volume of 180 million cubic feet per day, it is only making do with 50 million cubic feet.

“I am not saying that if we get all the fuel there will not be any challenges; what am saying is that the level of shortages would reduce drastically,” he added.

Mr Anku observed that since fuel security was by far the major problem to the current power supply, there was the need for the central government to urgently find measures to address the situation.

VRA’s outlook

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Kirk Koffi, said despite the assurance from Nigeria to increase the supply of gas to Ghana, the situation remained the same as gas supply continued to persist below the required target.

“For the first week, we received the required gas from our counterpart from Nigeria but, unfortunately, the situation has reverted back to the old system. They are supposed to supply about 400 daily but we are only receiving 70 to 30 per cent,” he said.

According to Koffi, the country cannot continue to rely on Nigeria for stable and adequate supply of gas for thermal power generation.

Current gas supply of 70 million cubic feet per day from Nigeria via the West African Gas Pipeline for thermal power generation is 50 million cubic feet short of the contractual volume of 120 million cubic feet per day.

This means that only the 200-megawatt gas-reliant Asogli Thermal Plant and just one other plant in VRA’s portfolio run on gas.

AGI’s appeal

The President of the AGI, Mr James Asare-Adjei, said if the current energy problem was not fixed, the vision and objectives of the industrial sector would be a mirage.

“As a country, we seriously need long-term planning for our energy sector to enable us to effectively implement such plans to avoid perennial problems within our energy sector,” he said.

Mr Asare-Adjei, therefore, requested the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to give companies in the industrial zones some exemption from power outages to sustain businesses and keep their staff.

Reactions from ECG

An Energy Economist from ECG, Mr Ebenezer Baiden, assured that the company was putting in place measures to ensure that the industrial sector did not suffer as a result of the energy problems.

He, however, encouraged companies to conduct their operations within the day so that they did not encounter any mishaps at night.

Business luncheon

The event, organised by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), attracted high profile personalities and heads of companies in the country.

Discussions at the forum centered on issues affecting the smooth supply of power to industry and the way forward in addressing the situation.

Source: graphic.com
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