The country’s power situation, which saw a significant improvement in recent times, is beginning to make a negative U-turn as the Mine Reserve Plant and other thermal units in Tema are down as a result of low gas pressure in the pipeline from Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian authorities who assured the country of continued supply of gas to the Volta River Authority (VRA) after agreeing various terms with the authority, have explained that the low pressure is the result of a mechanical fault and not deliberate.
The Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) requested the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to start shedding about 600 megawatts (MW) of power from yesterday.
The directive to the ECG, according to GRIDCo, stemmed from the insufficient generation of power.
The GRIDCo off-peak load-relief request affected 210MW of power to the Greater Accra Region; 120MW to Ashanti; 120MW to Tema; 60MW to Western; 40MW each to Central and Eastern, and 20MW to the Volta Region.
Situation in Tema
Currently, the Tema power enclave, which plays host to the Mine Reserve Plant (MRP), the Siemens Plant, SSNIT’s CENIT Plant, the Asogli Plant and the VRA’s TTPC Plant, contributes significantly to the country’s energy mix.
Four of the plants — the MRP, Siemens, Cenit and Asogli — run on only natural gas, while the TTPC could run on either natural gas or crude oil if it is available.
At the moment, all those units which run on only natural gas are down and the low pressure is only feeding one unit of Asogli, which is not enough to take care of the shortfall.
With improved gas from Nigeria, the country reduced the load between 200MW and 280MW, which was manageable, until the surge to almost 600MW.
When the Daily Graphic contacted officials of the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo), transporters of the gas, they confirmed the zero level and attributed the problem to a fault at one of its gas fields in Nigeria.
According to the Head of Corporate Communications at WAPCo, Mrs Harriet Wereko-Brobby, the pressure was beginning to increase from zero.
However, the pressure still remains at the lowest level, pushing the country back into “darkness” and forcing industry and commerce to increase their cost of operation.
Nigeria Gas (N-Gas) recently threatened to seal the gas pipeline that supplies gas to thermal plants powered by the VRA over unpaid debts.
The VRA currently owes WAPCo to the tune of $103 million.
Against that backdrop, the management of WAPCo expressed concern over the debt and threatened to cut gas supply to the country if the VRA failed to pay up the debt.
To forestall the possibility of plunging the country into total darkness, a high-powered government delegation, led by the Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, and including the Chief Executive of the VRA, Mr Kirk Kwofie, and other officials, travelled to Nigeria to confer with the management of WAPCo to agree on a payment plan to clear the debt.