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Ensure timely information flow on outages — Energy Minister

BY: Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu
 Mr Ben Asante (3rd left), CEO, Ghana Gas, briefing Mr John-Peter Amewu (arrowed) and his team at the Takoradi Regulating and Metering Station
Mr Ben Asante (3rd left), CEO, Ghana Gas, briefing Mr John-Peter Amewu (arrowed) and his team at the Takoradi Regulating and Metering Station

The Minister of Energy, Mr John-Peter Amewu, has directed players in the power sector to ensure constant flow of information on planned power outages and related issues to enable consumers to plan ahead.

Information asymmetry, he said, gave room for distorted information, uneasiness and speculation that made it difficult for members of the public to appreciate the challenges in the sector and plans to mitigate them.

Reverse flow

Mr Amewu gave the advice during a tour of the Aboadze Power Enclave, where a plethora of engineering works, including the tie-in of gas pipelines of the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant and the West African Gas Pipeline, were currently ongoing to ensure the reverse flow of stranded gas in the Western Region to the Tema power enclave.

He said timely and adequate information flow would allow customers to plan their routines and businesses to schedule work processes as a result of the deficit in power generation occasioned by the shutdown of the Atuabo Gas Plant for the tie-in.

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The Energy Minister said the challenges in the power sector which started a few days ago were due to the government’s quest to complete the much-awaited inter-connection that would eventually lead to the reverse flow of gas from an area with excess natural gas to the area it was more needed between the two power enclaves in Tema and Aboadze.

“With the completion, we will be able to transport the stranded gas to Tema to ensure that the plants in Tema feed on the gas, which is a cheaper way of sustaining the system, rather than the expensive light crude oil,” he said.

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Concerns

With the current arrangement, Mr Amewu said, when gas was transmitted to Tema, “it means we may not have to pay for the cost of the excess gas, even though we do not use it, since we will have other plants commissioned on gas”.

“It is rather unfortunate that the situation has extended to the kind of shortages that we are seeing in the system, but as we are all aware, this will help us migrate the plants to gas, generate the cheaper way and ensure stability and sustainability of the system,” he said.

He said he appreciated the concerns of consumers, as they had to make adjustments without any prior notice, “which reflects some level of discomfort”.

Cost saving

Mr Amewu stressed the importance of the tie-in to the country, saying: “When we commission the plants on gas, the benefits to the country and the public are huge, and they will trickle down to the last consumer.”

“Therefore, if the public is informed, it will understand what is going on, hence the need for information flow,” he stressed.

The ongoing work on the tie-in point is said to be more than 90 per cent complete.

The minister gave an assurance that the work would be completed within 12 days.

Back-up fuel

To ensure that power generation normalised after the 12 days, Mr Amewu said, “we have made arrangements to ensure that sufficient fuel is available for all those plants that feed on heavy fuel oil and light crude oil”.

He said it was important to appreciate the fact that the country’s energy mix came with various fuel requirements, and that was for a purpose, adding: “Today, we can have a problem with the natural gas sector but those on light crude and heavy fuel can operate.”

The minister commended the power companies, their allied services and the entire team working to ensure that work was completed on schedule.

Landowners

On the construction of pylons to link switch yards for the evacuation of power, he revealed that some landowners within the enclave were posing challenges to the progress of work.

He said he would hold discussions with one of the owners of a 50 by 50-metre size of land who was demanding more than GH¢8 million to grant the contractors access.

He said while the Energy Ministry and those in the industry would not acquire people’s land without going through due processes, as well as ensuring that what was due the owners was paid, where the money demanded was beyond limit, “it becomes an uphill task and unfair”.

Ghana Gas, other plants

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas), Dr Ben Asante, assured the public of its commitment to the project to ensure that gas was delivered to Tema on the scheduled date.

He explained that work on the project started long ago and that the complete shutdown was to ensure safe connection within the scheduled 12 days promised.

Mr Amewu also visited other plants under construction, as well as ongoing works on lines that link the metering station to the resting place of the Karpowership, which is expected to be relocated to the Home Port of the Western Naval Command in Sekondi.