Gas for electricity cheaper, cleaner alternative — Ben Asante
Dr Ben K.D. Asante — CEO, Ghana National Gas Company

Gas for electricity cheaper, cleaner alternative — Ben Asante

THE Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC), Dr Ben K.D. Asante, has said that the country can save up to 50 per cent in electricity generation cost if it used more natural gas to fire thermal plants.

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The oil and gas engineer said a research by the company showed that the country could save up to $50 million a year if it replaced light crude oil with gas as a fuel source for generating electricity.

Dr Asante told the Graphic Business in Houston, Texas, in the United States of America (USA) that natural gas was also relatively cleaner than light crude oil, making it Ghana’s best stepping stone to a climate-friendly environment.

He spoke to the paper at the just-ended Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, where Ghana exhibited its hydrocarbon wealth to he world.

Power cost

For years, Ghana has been bogged down by high energy prices caused by costly contracts and rising cost of production. 

It also comes at a time when the world is pushing for a shift from fossil fuels to renewables and Ghana's signatory to the Paris Agreement means that the country would have to show more commitment to he green evolution.

Although Dr Asante said Ghana and Africa in general must approach the energy transition issue with tact, he said natural gas could come in handy for the country.

Citing the findings of a research by Ghana Gas, the engineer said a heavy reliance on gas as fuel for thermal plants as against light crude oil would reduce the energy bill by 50 per cent and also cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 80 per cent.

Ghana currently has about 15 thermal plants that generate about 3,753 mega watts (MW) of electricity in Takoradi in the Western Region and Tema in the Greater Accra Region.

Bridge fuel

Speaking to the paper after participating in an Africa forum on the energy transition at the conference, Dr Asante said although Ghana and Africa in general must not be rushed into making the shift to renewables, cheaper and cleaner alternatives could be explored as bridge fuels to help lengthen the use of fossil fuels and the exploitation of the hydrocarbons.

He was speaking on the role gas can play in the energy transition.

Cleaner alternative

Dr Asante, who sat through the programme, said Africa needed technical and financial resources to be able to participate fully in the energy transition.

But while it explored the avenues to raises resources and built the technical capacity, the petroleum engineer said it needed to find smarter ways of lengthening its uses of fossil fuel.

This, he said made gas a smarter option.

“Takoradi is generating about 1,000 MW of power. When you use light crude oil, our bill, even when you are looking at crude oil at $60 per barrel, is about $70 million per month to generate a 1,000mw.

“When we use gas instead of the light crude oil, our monthly bill is just about $33 million.”

“So, you see a significant reduction in our bill when we use gas instead of oil. But it does not end there,” he said.

“We also talk about the atmospheric emissions as well. 

When we use oil, we are able to get into the atmosphere with CO2 to the tune of about 8.3 million tones per year but when we use natural gas, we only release just about 1.3 million tones per year for the same amount of energy of a 1,000mw that we generate in Takoradi.

“So, you see that you do not only have significant savings by using gas instead of oil but you also have significant atmospheric responsiveness when you use gas,” the Ghana Gas CEO said. 

Capacity

Dr Asante also underscored the need for Africa to build adequate capacity to be able to fully exploit its hydrocarbons while making the switch to renewables.

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He said Africa’s “frustrations and our indignation will be impotent unless we are able to acquire the requisite financial and technical resources. 

At the moment, we do not have that yet and so even if we recognise that we have to lengthen our use of fossil fuel, we have to make sure that we the requisite financial resources and the technical capacity,” he said.

Key energy experts in Africa have spoken variously against a quick push to transition from fossil fuels to renewables, citing the need for the continent to be allowed to fully exploit its hydrocarbons to fast track development.

For a continent that contributes about 3.4 per cent of CO2 emissions, they said it was unfair for it to be rushed into abandoning its resources in the name of energy transition.

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Energy forum

Meanwhile, the energy transition forum, which was on the theme: Building resilience in Africa’s energy sector in the wake of energy transition,’ brought together policymakers, experts and investors in Africa’s energy sector to explore the impact of energy transition on the continent and how it should approach it.

It was in two parts: opening speeches from Ghana’s Minister of Energy, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, and the Permanent Secretary of Nigeria's Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ambassador Gabriel Taminu Aduba, and a panel discussion by private sector players and regulators from the continent.

The panel comprised the CEO of the Petroleum Commission, Ghana, Mr Faibille Jr, who also represented Ghana’s Minister of Energy, the Executive Vice President and Head of Kosmos Ghana, Joe Mensah, the Chairman of the Association of Tanzania Oil and Gas Service Providers, Abdulsamad Abdulrahim, and the Chief Technical Officer of the Niger Delta Exploration and Production Plc in Nigeria, Ebenezer Ageh.It was moderated by Dr Kwame Boakye Agyei of the Ghana Upstream Petroleum Chamber.

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