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General News of Tuesday, 2 August 2016


Consumers testify to improved power supply after 'dumsor' scare

A cross-section of consumers say the power supply situation has improved for the past week after government procured more than 400,000 barrels of light crude oil.

“I live at Banana Inn around Abolo Bridge [and] I would say that for the past three days, it has been stable,” one consumer told Joy News.

“For the past one week, they have not taken my light,” a consumer from East Legon told Joy News.

A resident at Jayee close to Mallam said the situation is okay for him while yet another person expressed optimism that the improvement would last, “I hope it remains the same.”

July signified a return to erratic power supply after more than 650mw shortfall in generation. Consumers expressed fears the problem could persist as it did in 2015 when homes and businesses suffered very severe power shortages known in local parlance as ‘dumsor’.

Government rejected calls for a timetable to predict the power cuts, explaining that the problem was an emergency situation that was expected to normalise sooner than later.

The resurgent power troubles, this time, was caused by a disruption in gas supply from Nigeria. The plants could not access gas from Nigeria due to vandalism of gas pipeline in one of the world’s largest petroleum producing countries.

As a result, power plants that relied on cheaper fuel source, gas, grounded to a near halt.

But for the past seven days, most of the production plants are back on stream, running on recently imported crude oil, Head of Communications at the Volta River Authority (VRA) Gertrude Koomson told Joy news.

In the absence of gas, government had to go in for a more expensive replacement, 400,000 barrels of light crude oil to power plants in Tema and Aboadze thermal plants.

With a “tremendous” improvement in fuel supply, the Aboadze thermal plants are giving off almost 600 megawatts while the Ameri power plants are adding more than 200 megawatts, she revealed.

“We have enough light crude oil to last more than two weeks…we have enough fuel in stock treated and ready to use” she revealed.

The good news gets better as Gertrude Koomson further revealed that three turbines at Akosombo Dam are running.

She indicated that has been a slight improvement in water levels in the Dam which has lost its place as the main source of power supply.

She expressed hope that vandalism of gas pipelines in Nigeria which triggered the interruption will ease and allow a resumption of normal supply.

At the moment “we are not getting anything from there [in Nigeria] to use” she said.
Ghana is not out of the woods. In megawatt terms, Ghana is losing 200 megawatts it gets from independent power producer, Sunon Asogli thermal plant which runs on gas from Nigeria.

Again, if crude oil in stock is exhausted and Nigerian situation persists, power supply could drop from 800 megawatts to about two gas turbines at Aboadze in the Western Region.

In that case, consumers would have to rely on a thermal plant at Kpong which runs on Distillate Fuel Oil (DFO), she indicated.

Giving a larger picture of the power supply situation, Deputy Power Minister, John Jinapor also explained that the key to solving the power supply problem is increasing production capacity.

According to him, government expects 250 megawatts from a second powership from Turkey, Karpower. Another plant is now available to power 350mw and government has repaired a 130 mw thermal plants in Aboadze which had broken down for some years.
“So give and take you are looking at 600mw additional capacity within the year, not next year,” Mr Jinapor said.

He said a majority of the incoming capacity can also rely on another fuel alternative – DFO which government says it has “quite a regular supply” unlike crude oil.

He said government is also diversifying the sources of fuel it uses because it is still vulnerable to crude oil shortages and dependence on Nigeria.

Defending further acquisition of power plants, John Jinapor said the incoming capacity that depend on DFO gives government more options to generate power.

If Akosombo Dam is off, Ghana loses a staggering 1000 megawatts and gas troubles from Nigeria could cost consumers 900mw shortfall.

“If you have DFO it gives you diversity, if you have LPG, it gives you diversity,” he said.