14 May 2018

Nigeria's Abundant Gas Resources Fail to End Electricity Blackout

The inability to get more gas to generate energy and some constraints in transmission as well as distribution denied electricity users 21,242MW in six days of last week. Daily Trust reports.

Our reporters gathered that part of the problem that recently contributed to poor generation was that the thermal plants could no longer get much gas from their suppliers as the debts mounted.

It was learnt that the Federal Government has suspended the N701 billion payment assurance guarantee initiated by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, as an intervention to ensure that the GenCos have over 50 per cent every month to pay their bills including for gas.

Fashola introduced the commendable facility as the trend of an average 30 per cent monthly remittance of energy bills by the DisCos was almost crippling the sector, as over N800 billion market shortfall has been recorded.

The N701bn fund payment was to guarantee 50 per cent payment to the GenCos in addition to the 30 to 40 per cent being remitted by the DisCos to sustain gas supply and incremental power.

In her response about the GenCos' operation, the Executive Secretary of the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Dr Joy Ogaji, said the payment resumed just recently, giving fresh hope of increased power generation.

"If power is dropping, it is due to the unprofessional way the grid is being managed," she noted.

The grid realised the highest peak generation of 5,162MW recorded on May 2, 2018, but that fell to an average 4,000MW. Last Friday, the daily operational report from the System Operator recorded 4,696MW peak generation and a lower generation of 3,387MW. While this is so, our reporters observed a rising figure of over 3,000MW for power not generated due to the constraints.

Grid lost 21,142MW in 6 days over hiccups

Analysis of a one-week operational report has it that the Nigerian electricity grid last week lost 21,142MW in six days. A huge chunk of this loss was because gas supply was not enough at about eight power stations daily expected to deliver 11,779MW of energy in the six days.

Issues around distribution load rejection contributed 8,640MW; transmission constraint resulted in the loss of 533MW while water management issue at Jebba hydropower station added a 190MW energy loss.

The breakdown of the colossal loss of energy obtained from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) indicates that as at May 6 (Sunday), the grid could not produce 3,896MW of electricity. Out of this, inadequate gas supply experienced at seven stations contributed to the loss of 1,740MW with Geregu GenCo being the highest loser.

Constraint in transmission lines caused another loss of 190MW in the new Azura GenCo and Trans Amadi GenCo; 1,871MW was lost due to the variations in the energy distribution of the DisCos often described as load rejection.

This deficit of energy that ought to have been generated affected 11 GenCos comprising two Shiroro and Jebba hydropower stations and nine thermal GenCos. Jebba hydro also lost 95MW from a turbine as water was not enough to propel more generation.

Last Friday, 3,231MW was lost to these constraints at a time many electricity consumers needed more energy. 2,107MW of this was because of shortage of gas to eight thermal power stations. At the DisCos' end, 1,084MW could not be delivered to consumers from seven GenCos because the distribution feeders did not take such energy from the transmission system. 40MW was lost at Trans-Amadi GenCo over constraint in the transmission line connecting it to the grid.

Mixed feelings, as consumers react nationwide

A survey by Daily Trust in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Niger, Katsina, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Benue states revealed both anguish and excitement among customers of the different electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

Mr Michael Adu, a resident of Lugbe in the FCT who lamented the state of supply in his area, said since the rainy season set in, power supply has been epileptic.

At Kado Estate also in Abuja, however, a resident said power supply improved after they were connected to another transformer. "Unlike before when our place had just four to six hours of supply, the situation has been different for about two weeks now.

But at Dakwa area in Niger State, some residents said there was outage for over three days last week. One of them, Mr Aliyu Silas, a commercial resident said, "We don't know what happened but up till today (Thursday), we haven't had power supply and we are burning more petrol on generators to run our businesses."

In Ugbokolo town in Benue State, it was learnt that the disruption in power supply was due to a faulty line but which was rectified after four days. Officials of the Jos Electricity Distribution (JED) company fixed and restored supply.

Muhammad Umar in Katsina State also shared his experience in a blackout that lasted more than five days last week. "Our supply has been low and for some time now, we experience prolonged disruptions," he noted.

After the rainstorm of Saturday in parts of Abuja and Nasarawa, residents of Mararaba said they were left without power supply for up to 48 hours. Mr Ademola Shuaib, a cold-room operator said the outage was due to faulty lines.

On its part, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) led by its new chairman, Prof. James Momoh, has tasked the power operators on immediate response to fault clearing during the rainy season that consumers can get better supply and improved service delivery.

NERC in a statement on Friday, said it noted the impact of rainstorm on electricity installations, especially with onset of the rainy season, and tasked them to ensure that electricity is produced and consumed in strict observance of the industry's health and safety standards.

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