Engineers at the Aboadze Power Enclave have assured the nation that in less than two weeks the 350 megawatts (MW) shortfall in power will be reduced to 150MW.
The engineers working on both Volta River Authority (VRA) and Takoradi International Company (TICO) plants were emphatic that by Wednesday, March 26, 2014 work on 100MW would be completed but the technocrats would require a few days to do test runs.
They were, however, sure that by April 8, 2014 the two units would have come on stream, injecting 200 megawatts of power onto the national grid.
According to them, the injection of 200MW by April 8 is expected to reduce the impact of the load-shedding regime on consumers.
“We also hope that gas volumes from Nigeria will improve soon and work on Atuabo will be completed to enable us to add another 70MW from T3 and 130MW from units in Tema which are commissioned to run on only gas. The Asogli plant is also expected to operate fully,” they said.
They gave the assurance when they led journalists to tour power installations of the VRA and TICO in Tema in the Greater Accra Region, as well as Aboadze and Atuabo, both in the Western Region, last Saturday.
Explaining the factors which had precipitated the power management exercise, Eng. Richard Badger, the Director of Thermal Energy Generation at the VRA, said the current supply deficit was due to two unexpected activities that happened at the same time.
“Firstly, we have planned maintenance activities on two units of TICO which give 200 megawatts. The two units are supposed to be shut down one after the other for a month each, including mandatory seven days’ combustion inspection,” he said.
Mr Badger said during the mandatory combustion inspection on January 21, 2014, “engineers realised that more damage had occurred, which called for a major dismantling of the plant, and the work associated with it went beyond the estimated time of one month to restore the loss of 100MW”.
Before the completion of repairs on the first unit, the mandatory inspection of the second unit, which has a generation capacity of 100MW, was due, he explained.
The inspection resulted in the shutting down of the TICO Unit Two on February 24, 2014.
The shutting down of the two units resulted in the loss of 200MW.
The damage to VRA plant
Prior to the TICO problem, the VRA’s unit one, according to Eng. Badger, had an accident on January 10, 2014 which damaged its compressor, resulting in the loss of an additional 150MW.
“Even though we have a spare
compressor to immediately replace the damaged component, the damage caused by the broken rotor-blade to other parts of the unit will have to be repaired before re-assembling the unit and this is expected to be completed by June 30,” he said.
The engineers said the situation was aggravated by the low volumes of gas from Nigeria, making it difficult for them to allow all the generating units to run only on gas.
The reasons given by Nigeria for the low volumes were the continuous breach of the pipelines and competition for the product on the Nigerian market.
However, a team led by the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, which visited Nigeria on Monday, March 17, 2014 secured a commitment from the Nigerian authorities for the constant supply of 50MMBtu/d, up from the 30MMBtu/d or less being supplied in recent days.
Unfortunately, plants at the Aboadze Power Enclave, which were inaugurated to run on light crude and gas at the same time, with a capacity of 630MW, were saddled with major problems which forced the country into the current load-management exercise, Eng Badger said.
Asogli Plant in Tema
During the tour of the Sunon Asogli Power Plant, officials there said their main problem was the erratic gas supply from Nigeria which resulted in a complete shutdown of the plant.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Kweku Lee, however, indicated that after President John Dramani Mahama had dispatched the Energy Minister to hold discussions with the Nigerian authorities, the supply of gas had improved significantly.
Mr Lee expressed the hope that the gas volumes would improve if the Atuabo Gas Plant became operational.
At the Ghana Gas project site, engineers of the Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas) took journalists through the processes and gave an assurance that in the worst-case scenario, the mechanical completion would be done by April 20, 2014.
“We are working extra hours to ensure that the initial deadline of March 31, 2014 is attained, followed by testing and the inauguration of the project,” they said.
Mr Robert Lartey, the Engineering Manager for the project, said on April 6 a vessel would arrive to connect its offshore riser-platform to the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to commence the shipment of the raw gas to the shore for processing.
“In June, we will start the transmission of about 100 million standard cubic feet (SCF) to Aboadze where the tie-in to the VRA facility has already been completed,” he said.
Another major boost, according to him, was the arrival of the Gamma Ray Scanner for the completion of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) facility for domestic use.
“The facility will be ready on schedule to start processing more than 1.3 trillion cubic feet of associated gas which is much needed to fire the power plants and pave the way for the Jubilee partners to increase production,” he said.
For his part, the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, described the situation as a short-term challenge which would be over soon.
He commended the engineers on site for their dedication and urged them not to let the nation down.
“The country will emerge from the current situation stronger,” he added.
He also indicated that the government had various plans in place which would position the country as a net exporter of power.
Expected gas offshore
After the first round of aggressive exploration, appraisals of the country’s first oil and gas fields show that an estimated volume of more than five trillion cubic feet of gas deposit is yet to be harnessed.
The Atuabo facility will, from next June, start receiving part of the associated gas from the Jubilee Fields, with the capacity to process 120 million SCF daily.
The country’s daily requirement of gas to operate all the units commissioned to run on gas at the moment is estimated at about 270 million SCF.