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Power outages due to shutdown of Atuabo gas plant — Minister

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Deputy Minister of Energy in charge of Power, Mr William Owuraku Aidoo
Deputy Minister of Energy in charge of Power, Mr William Owuraku Aidoo

The Ministry of Energy says the power outage being experienced in some parts of the country is due to the total shutdown of the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant in the Western Region.

It explained that the power outage was not the result of the lack of funds to purchase fuel for power plants.

At a press briefing in Accra yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Energy in charge of Power, Mr William Owuraku Aidoo, said the total shutdown of the Atuabo Plant was to make way for Ghana Gas to interconnect its systems with the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCO).

Chief executives of power sector agencies, including the Volta River Authority (VRA), the Ghana Gas Company Limited (Ghana Gas) and the Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), were present at the press briefing.

Apology

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While apologising to Ghanaians for the erratic power supply to some parts of the country for about a week now, Mr Aidoo explained that although the shutdown, which will last 12 days, had created some inconveniences for the public, the successful completion of the process would bring about stable power supply.

“Our hope, as a ministry, was to reduce drastically the impact of the interconnectivity exercise, so we thought the public would not even know about the partial shutdown, but, unfortunately, this is where we find ourselves.

“On behalf of the Minister of Energy, John-Peter Amewu, and the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I want to apologise to the people of Ghana for the current situation and assure them that we have taken steps to deal with the challenge.

”I know that this unfortunate situation has inconvenienced many people and affected businesses, but that is the little price we will have to pay for the next 10 or 12 days for the collective good of the country,” he said.

Alternative fuel

He said alternative arrangements had been made for fuel supply to make up for the shortfall in the supply of gas within the period of the shutdown.

Mr Aidoo refuted the allegation that the lack of funds to purchase fuel for the power plants was the cause of the power outages.

“The allegation that the government has no money to buy fuel or manage the energy sector is actually balderdash because we have procured enough fuel to contain the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, a visit to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) with the team from the Ministry of Energy showed that some fuel was in stock to be transmitted to the VRA and AKSA Energy Ghana.

When the team got to TOR, 10 bulk road vehicles (BRVs) were seen loading heavy fuel for distribution to the power plants.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TOR, Mr Isaac Osei, told journalists who toured the facility that 10,500 tonnes of diesel had been received from Stratcom Energy for the VRA, while 11,000 tonnes of heavy fuel had also been received from Gold Energy for the AKSA Ghana plant.

Additionally, he said, 300,000 barrels of light crude oil had been received for the VRA.

"We are in the process of loading the BRVs to distribute the fuel to the right destinations.

We can do 1,000 tonnes a day, but we are talking to the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to allow us to work beyond 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., so that we can do 1,500 tonnes.

"We are ready to work on Saturdays and Sundays to ensure that we clear all 

the 11,000 tonnes to AKSA Ghana," he said.

Interconnection

The CEO of Ghana Gas, Dr Ben Asante, said the move to interconnect the systems of the company with WAPCO was necessary because it would help guarantee the regular supply of gas to the Tema enclave through the reverse flow of the resource from the west to the east.

Background

The GridCo last Saturday requested a total load reduction of 300 megawatts (MW) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The move followed the reported shutdown of the Atuabo Plant located in the Western Region for mandatory maintenance after the valve of that facility was closed at 9.25 a.m. on March 30 for a 12-day outage to complete the final tie-in works under the Takoradi-Tema interconnection project.

The resultant termination of gas flow from the west compelled GRIDCo to request a reduction in the load in Accra, Tema, the Ashanti, Central, Western, Eastern and Volta regions, totalling 300MW.

Earlier last week, Power Distribution Services (PDS) Ghana announced an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. power outage in some parts of the Volta Region and Tema because of maintenance works being carried out by the company.