Business News of Saturday, 22 December 2012
Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei, Minister of Energy, says gas as a source of power generation could cut back the country's cost by almost six fold, apart from other benefits.
He said the West African Gas Pipeline Project is thus the most needed initiative that holds great prospects.
Dr Oteng Adjei was speaking at a day's emergency West Africa Gas Pipeline Authority Committee of Ministers Meeting in Accra on Friday.
"Indeed, this is what saw the birth of this Public Private Partnership arrangement with the West African Gas Pipeline Company," he said, adding that the project which started in 2005, attained full operations in 2011,” he said.
He said over the years, Ghana, Togo and Benin had received their share of gas for energy generation.
"On Tuesday, August 28, 2012, the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCO) informed Ghana that an oil tanker which was attacked by a pirate vessel, in the process of getting away, dragged its anchor and damaged the pipeline."
The minister said as a result, WAPCO cut gas supply to Ghana adding, "the effect of this on Ghana was a power supply deficit of about 300 megawatts at peak time- 1800 hours to 2300 hours and about 100 megawatts during the day that is off peak.
Dr Oteng-Adjei said the implications of the deficit were considerable and had caused Ghana a lot of discomfort.
He said on Monday, October 15, WAPCO completed repairs to the damaged section of the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) and commenced technical commissioning, which involved making the internal environment of the pipe safe for re-introduction of gas.
"We were told the process would take two to eight weeks," he said.
The Energy Minister said on October 31, "we were informed that during the process, a fatal incident occurred, leading to the suspension of the commissioning work”.
He said the WAPCO Board of Director recommended that the rest of the commissioning works be outsourced to expert companies, to ensure safety and efficiency.
Dr Oteng-Adjei said, "we have been informed that the process to award a contract to a suitable company is on-going. The contract is expected to be awarded in January 2013. Upon award of the contract, the schedule of work and the estimated completion date would be made known by WAPCO".
He described the situation as unfortunate saying, "at a time when our appetite for more gas has heightened, we are being denied the supply of gas and to make matters worse, WAPCO is reticent to share with us a workable time table".
Dr Oteng-Adjei said the stoppage in gas flow had resulted in reduction in the country's power generation capacity by about 300 megawatts.
He said the Asogli plant, is at a standstill and "the Takoradi Plant had to retrofit to produce some power with LCO/Diesel which does not come cheap".
The Energy Minister said the Volta River Authority spent 2.6 million dollars a day, to generate power, adding that the country's industries are also hurting among other ill effects.
"The President of Ghana is of the opinion that this beautiful Public Private Partnership arrangement is potently threatened and I concur to this position.
"That is why he paid a courtesy call on President Good Luck Jonathan of the Republic of Nigeria last week, to discuss issues pertaining to the WAGP, and President Jonathan has graciously pledged his full support."