President John Mahama has said Ghana is on the brink of energy security.
The Ghanaian President, who is seeking a second and final four-year term in office in his country’s December 7 polls, told Ovation International in an exclusive interview that: “As [of] January this year, we have put in 854 megawatts of emergency generation. That generation is available and we have managed to match demand and supply. But then we need an extra redundancy which we do not have at the moment.”
What that means, Mr Mahama said, is that “if something happens to one plant, then we will slip into a deficit. If you bring the plant back up, everything becomes normal again. So, we have been through the challenging period which is July. And this July, why we suffered the deficit is because of the delay in receiving light crude.”
Explaining further, Mr Mahama said what happened “was that apart from light crude, we did not have gas as well and our plants are designed to run on light crude or gas. We have been running on light crude and we have been ordering that light crude from Nigeria. Unfortunately, there was vandalisation of the terminals in Nigeria and so the parcel of light crude we were expecting did not come as planned. Because the light crude did not arrive, it meant some plants could not work, and so that made our generation go down again.”
“Now, the latest information is that we have received that parcel that was delayed, and another that we ordered has also arrived. So we have enough now, and so we would begin to see an improvement in terms of demand and supply.
“What we have also done to prevent this type of thing happening again is that I have ordered the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company which is responsible for keeping Ghana’s strategic stock to keep one month’s supply of light crude in reserve so if there is any challenge in terms of shortage in light crude, BOST will supply. And then restock later. That is now in place.
“Aside from that, going forward, things are going to improve because we are going into the season where the lake level will begin to rise and in the last two days, we have seen a 0.2 increase in the lake level, so it means we can bring some more hydro into the system.
“But Ghana is on the brink of energy security because, one, the TEN field will soon become operational. On August 18, 2016, I am going to turn the tap for the TEN field to start producing. That will produce about 80,000 barrels of oil per day. And it has associated gas. But then a few months ago, I cut the sod for the ENI project. The ENI project is a gas field and it has about 1.3 trillion cubic feet of gas, which can add 1,000 megawatts of power to Ghana’s generation for the next 20 years. And we are expecting this to come on stream at the end of 2017. So we have done all the things that are moving Ghana into an era of energy security and even becoming a net exporter, because if you have another 1,000 Megawatts to Ghana’s generation, Ghana cannot consume all of it,” he said.
According to him, at peak hours, “consumption comes to about 2,200 megawatts that is during the warm season in March when people turn on all their air conditioners and all of that.”
“And, so, if you add another 1,000 megawatts to our current installed capacity, then you are talking of about 3,000, so there will be extra power that Ghana will be looking for what to do with. That is why we are all looking forward to the beginning of the regional electricity market which is supposed to start in 2017. So that countries that have extra power can put it on the regional electricity market and sell it to those who have a deficit.
“So we are working towards achieving 5,000 megawatts by the year 2020. Any extra power we have will be put on the regional electricity market so that we can dispatch to countries who want additional power.
“Burkina Faso wants additional power, Togo wants additional power, Mali wants additional power, Liberia and Sierra Leone too.
“We have a short term plan, we have a medium term plan and we have a long term plan. Our plan is that between now and 2025, we would have been able to generate enough power to make Ghana self-sufficient. We know that from now on, power shortages will be a thing of the past for Ghanaians. It is a promise that we are committed to.
“But coming back to the short term, as I explained earlier, the major problem has been created by the lack of supply of light crude. We have the generating assets but we did not have light crude to fire them. Aside from that, we have some assets that run on only gas, and they are stranded in the East because we do not have enough gas. There has been vandalization of the West African Gas Pipeline, and so we have not been able to get enough pressures from the gas pipeline and that is why Asogli is not working today.
“Asogli is a 180 megawatts plant. The second phase that I went to commission is half of a 360 megawatts plant. And they are finalizing the other phase. So if it is done, we will have Asogli 1 which is 180 megawatts and Asogli 2 which is 360 megawatts, we will then be talking of almost 500 megawatts capacity sitting in Tema, that does not have gas to run.
“One of the things we are also doing is to construct East-West pipeline from Obuasi to Tema so that gas from the local gas fields that we have can be transferred to the East to fire some of the thermal plants that we have there.
“Right now they are going through the tender process for the West-East gas pipeline so that once ENI and others come on stream, if we have any extra gas in the West, we can pipe to the East to supply the plants there. That is the overall situation with power generation.
“Currently Akosombo is running at half capacity, only three turbines are working. Akosombo has six turbines and that is because of the low level of the lake. We want the lake to recover so we would not be running six turbines again.
“We would run three turbines now, anytime we need peak load, we will bring in an additional turbine or two and when the load goes down we will keep reducing again so that we can nurse the lake back to its original level. That is the strategy with Akosombo going forward.
“But right now we are going into the rainy season. There are floods in the North because it is the rainfall from the North that feeds Akosombo. We will continue to bring it in.
“Akosombo has always been our base load but because of climate change and other things, it can no longer be our base load. That is why we have shifted to thermal generation and that is why the price of electricy had to go up because you are using light crude which is more expensive. And you are using less hydro. Hydro is 6 cents per kilowatt hour, gas is 11 cents per kilowatt hour while light crude is 15 cents per kilowatt hour,” he said.