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General News Fri, 28 Feb 2003

False Start For Thermal Power Project

....TROUBLE HITS VRA, TOR…AS CONSULTANT REJECTS ?BILLIONS FUEL FOR POWER GENERATORS

The Volta River Authority (VRA) at the beginning of this year said that its dependence on hydropower generation would have to be minimized due to the unappreciable level of water in the Akosombo dam.


To compensate for this, the country would derive 65% of its electrict power from the thermal plants at Tema and Aboadze with the remaining 35% being obtained from the two hydro plants at Akosombo and Kpong


The VRA then went on to begin the installation of the Strategic Reserve Plant (SRP) at Tema, near the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) main substation for the municipality, to deliver 110 megawatts of the total power needed in the country.


Chronicle investigations revealed that, apart from technical problems that the plant at its embryonic stage is faced with, the fuel to power the generators into action has become a major headache for not only the VRA, but also the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).


Information gathered has it that three large tanks that were used by Cummins Power Plant, which provided power for the country during the energy crisis in 1997/8, were filled with diesel from TOR.


Just as all was set to commence power generation to bail the VRA out of its predicament, a bomb was dropped.

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The consulting engineer to the SRP, whose name is being withheld, reportedly objected to the use of that type of fuel because the standard is not to the specification meant for the thermal plant. As in all herculean tasks, there must be a way out.


The three tanks of fuel not up to the required specification will have to be pumped back to TOR for further processing to take place, thus spitting out wastes of billions of cedis.


Two questions that were being asked as Chronicle dug for the story; Was the fuel ordered as finished product or did the refining take place at TOR?


What the paper out was that anytime any finished product is ordered, both TOR and SGS laboratory analyses take place to determine its suitability to Ghana's specification.


These two bodies independent investigations are compared and the necessary instruction passed on. Should it be that the refining took place at TOR, what might have gone wrong, observers queried.


VRA was tight-lipped. In a related development, Chronicle can reveal that the VRA has not been able to generate power to meet national demand, especially at peak period, between 19:00 hours and 22:00 hours GMT.

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Consequently, the Tema municipality (Region -ECG), Accra West (Dansoman and surroundings), parts of Kumasi and Takoradi, have been experiencing power rationing.


Sources at VRA said that the Accra East region of the ECG is enjoying better power supply, because of the siting of state institutions and military installations in this region, adding that because of this it is difficult for government to detect that there is a power crisis.


In spite of the handicap, there seems to be a problem between the VRA and the ECG that seems unnoticed.


The ECG at Tema supplies power to Tema Steel Works Company, formerly Wahome Steel, Ferro Fabrik and GHACEM, but surprisingly, there are moves by the VRA to snatch these customers from the ECG.

Source: THE GHANAIAN CHRONICLE