Nigerians want President Goodluck Jonathan to identity the groups behind constant gas pipeline vandalism and severely punish them
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 24, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
IN A bid to stem the spate of power outages across the country, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has completed repair works on the sections of the sabotaged Escravos-Lagos Gas Pipeline network. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, acting group general manager, group public affairs division, NNPC, said the repair works which has ended almost seven months of gas supply outage caused by wilful hacking of the pipeline in Delta State, would enable the re-injection of almost 200 million cubic feet per day of gas into the grid, the equivalent of about 700 megawatts of electricity.
Recently, the corporation also completed repair works on the pulverised Trans-Forcados Pipeline, which accounts for 230 million cubic feet per day of gas, the equivalent of 805 megawatts of electricity. With the latest successful repair of the gas pipelines, the NNPC is injecting a total of 430 million cubic feet per day of gas into the grid which translates into 1, 505 megawatts of electricity every day.
According to Ibrahim, an additional 60 million cubic feet per day is expected within the next three weeks when ongoing repair works at the Utorogu gas plant will be completed. He enthused that Nigerians should expect steady improvement in power supply through the course of the year. He noted that despite short term challenges being experienced as a result of deliberate pipeline sabotage, the gas sector reform was ongoing and on course.
“The minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, directed an accelerated implementation of the Nigerian Gas master-plan and this has resulted in an aggressive infrastructure development drive and major reforms of the commercial framework for gas in Nigeria. In the last three years alone, over 400km of new gas pipelines have been completed and we are expanding pipeline capacity and enhancing connectivity between various gas supply sources,” he said.
Ibrahim said that all the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, and the National Integrated Power Projects, NIPP, power plants are now connected to gas pipeline infrastructure while an additional 450km of pipelines are currently under construction of which 340km would be completed by the end of 2014 and the remaining by 2016. “The ongoing gas infrastructure work is the most extensive the nation has ever seen, with many new kilometers of pipelines being added every day. Gas production and supply have also grown to an all-time high of 1500 million cubic feet per day from less than 500 million cubic feet per day four years ago. A major part of this new supply is being directed to the power sector, whilst the non-power sector such as cement, manufacturing etc. have seen double increase in supply within the same period. Unfortunately, challenges of pipeline attacks continue to undermine the impact of these great efforts,” he said.
Ibrahim noted that power supply growth remains the priority of the NNPC and its Joint Venture partners. “Many projects are being progressed to ensure the realization of this objective. Before the end of the year, about 200mmcf/d new gas will be added to the grid as some projects are billed for completion in June and September. The trend is expected to continue through 2015 when many more projects are completed.” The NNPC assured that all efforts were being put in place to guarantee a sustainable growth in gas supply, with particular focus to the power sector.
The improvement in gas supply has made the federal government to mandate power investors to improve its performance. The federal government declared that it would withdraw the operational licences of poorly performing power firms. According to the government, the power investors should start providing electricity to their consumers as stipulated by their licences. Chinedu Nebo, minister of power, said the government had made it clear to the investors that they would lose their licences if they performed poorly. “On the ground, it will be left for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, which regulates them, to make sure that they are fulfilling what they showed us on paper that made the government to sell these companies to them. This is because it is one thing to see something on paper and another thing to see the reality. The NERC is there to monitor them and make sure they deliver; otherwise, their licences will be in jeopardy. They could lose their licences. They have to really perform and if they don’t, their licences will go,” he said.
The questions many Nigerians are asking are, what will someone gain from vandalising a gas pipeline since he or she can’t scoop the gas? Will the efforts of the federal government in fixing the gas pipelines translate into steady power supply? It is obvious that the erratic power supply in the country has taken a political dimension. As the 2015 general elections draw closer, opposition parties would like to use irregular power supply as a campaign issue against the president and his ruling party. It is more likely that most of the gas pipeline destructions across the country have political undertones.
Apart from political sabotage, there is also the likelihood that dealers in generating sets and diesel, whose business interests are threatened by steady power supply in the country would want to frustrate the efforts of the government in order to protect their business future. It would be recalled that Barth Nnaji, former minister of power, once said that dealers in generating sets were behind his forced resignation from the federal cabinet. It is now incumbent on the politicians and the dealers in generators and diesel to convince Nigerians that they have no hand in the persistent destruction of gas pipelines. On the other hand, they say that President Goodluck Jonathan must be proactive in dealing with saboteurs if he does not want his transformation agenda in the power sector to be a colossal failure.