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Business News of Thursday, 27 October 2016


Energy experts confirm NPP's warning on return of 'dumsor'

The country faces an imminent power challenge in December or early next year, two energy experts have said – corroborating a warning by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Head of Policy Unit at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr Ishmael Ackah, and Kojo Poku, an Energy Expert both agree the country is not likely to sustain the high cost of importing crude oil to feed power barges.

Kojo Poku says Ghana’s huge debt to Nigeria Gas (N-Gas), about $300 million, for which reason gas supply to power thermal plants has been cut, could have been avoided.

“We are spending so much in importing crude oil to power the plants because we are not paying our debts to NGas to get the gas in as we should.

"We are spending [about] 30 million dollars every four months to bring in 600, 000 barrels of crude oil. That works out 90 million a year. What is our debt to N-Gas?” he was baffled.

Currently, the Sunon Asogli Power Plant, which produces 200 MW of power and the CENET Power Plant (126MW) have been shut down due cut in gas supply from N-Gas.

ACEP’s Dr Ishmael Ackah also said a fall in power supply is very likely next year when a routine shutdown of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah starves Karpower and Ameri power plants of gas.

“Early next year, for eight to four weeks, we are going to fix the FPSO, so it is going down for about three months. If we do the repairs on-site, there will not be any trouble. If we do it off-site, we are going to lose gas to Ameri, it means Ameri too will not be working so these are some of the reasons why they are saying that next year there may be dumsor,” he explained.

The two experts were speaking Wednesday on current affairs programme, PM Express which airs on the Joy News channel (Multi TV).

They were commenting on a press conference held by the NPP about the country's power situation.

NPP’s Director of Policy, Boakye Agyarko, said at the press conference that the country faces a return to the debilitating power crisis that characterised last year and early this year.

The NPP said this will happen when the country loses a power supply shortfall of 700 MW due to mismanagement and poor planning by the current John Mahama-led administration.

But speaking on PM Express, Kojo Poku attempted an explanation for the current administration's refusal to pay debts owed N-Gas: corruption and underhand dealings.

“There is no ‘chop-chop’ [kick-back] when you get the gas in. With the importation of crude oil, some individuals are getting their share because there are markups and individuals in between the buying of crude.

“That is what [some government officials] are happy with, and that is why they are encouraging it,” he told PM Express host, Nana Ansah Kwao IV.

He said once the cost of a barrel of crude oil crosses the $50 per barrel mark, the situation is going to be dire.

“Currently, power consumers are paying less than the cost of producing power,” he cited as another major problem, regretting government’s decision to reduce power tariffs following agitations.

But Dr Ackah retains some optimism about Ghana's power situation.

If Ghana pays N-Gas today there will be enough gas to power the thermal plants, and with Akosombo Dam adding up, the country is not likely to face power challenges in December or next year.