Eight power plants have been shut down as at yesterday due to the inability to transport gas to them, a situation often blamed on the activities of militants who repeatedly bomb pipelines.
But a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta, who represents Okitipupa/Irele Federal Constituency, Mike Omogbehin, has faulted the claim that continued attacks on gas pipelines by militants in the Niger Delta are responsible for the drop in electricity supply in the country from more than 5000 to less than 3000 since February.
The lawmaker, who described such claim as unpopular, said there are options before Federal Government to roll out its plans for alternative power sources.
National daily generation report obtained by The Guardian revealed that the country is recording a severe shortfall of 4,627.03 mega watts due to gas constraints which has brought down the country’s electricity generation from the highest peak output ever attained to 2,984.3mw as at yesterday.
This is far less than the country’s installed capacity of 11,165.40mw and available capacity of 7,139.60mw.
Already, some manufacturing companies are contemplating relocating to neighbouring countries where electric power supply is regular and policies more favourable.
Some operators in the manufacturing sector are said to be spending over N28.8 billion monthly to generate electricity.
Companies like Coca Cola Plc, Nestle, Cadbury and other multinationals in the country have installed private power generating systems for their production processes, a decision they find necessary to avoid collapse of equipment, which may be caused by frequent outages.
Gas Turbines (GT) 11 and 12 of the 276 mega watts Geregu Power Plant have stopped generating electricity due to gas shortfall while its GT13 is out on maintenance.
Aloaji NIPP’s 250mw capacity has plummeted to zero as the GT1 is out on maintenance while GT2 tripped on excessive gas flow.
Gas Turbines 3 and 4 were said to be out due to gas pipeline vandalism.
GT1 – 4 of the 450mw of Ihovbor NIPP has been put out for the same reason.
Also, the 180mw and the 112.5mw Rivers and Gbarain Gas Power Plants have generated nothing, even as output dropped from the 336mw capacity of Omotosho Power Plant to 76mw. GT1 – 5, 7 and 8 are out due to gas constraints while GT2 and 6 are down due to frequency response.
Those operating at full capacity are Jebba, Shiroro and Kaija hydro plants.
The report envisaged that with improved plant availability and relief from existing power system network related constraints, additional 1,997.31 metric standard cubic feet (mscf) of gas equivalent to 7489.9mw will be required when all thermal units are on bar.
Lamenting the effects of irregular power supply, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said the situation continues to pose challenges to business operators.
According to LCCI, there are complaints across all sectors about high energy costs especially high expenditure on diesel and petrol for large and small businesses.
It stated in its latest economic report that, “most businesses spend as much as 15 to 25 per cent of their total operating costs on alternative power sources.
“The high dependence on gas pipelines from the Niger Delta is characterised by high vulnerability risks which the economy and the citizens can no longer bear.”
Director-General LCCI, Muda Yusuf, noted that businesses are dying everyday through poor power supply and low purchasing power from consumers.
According to him, many manufacturers are wary of the economic integration agenda as it takes a highly competitive environment to survive in such an economy.
“Businesses are complaining. Petrol and diesel costs are unbearable at the current rates. It is a suffocating situation and I hope the issues of ease of doing business are addressed before opening markets to other economies,” he added.
President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, said the ripple effects of the power shortages and constant outages were numerous, ranging from cut down in production, job loss to outright closure or relocation to other countries by industries.
He said: “When you are producing and power is taken unannounced, goods in line of production would be destroyed.”
As a result of this, Jacobs said many members of MAN have resorted to generating power privately and completely cut off their operations from the national grid.
Omogbehin accused the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing of reneging on its promise to sustain electricity supply over a year into the take off of this administration as well as emboldening power Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to hike electricity tariffs against the directives of the lower chamber.
“It is not enough to blame militants for poor power supply.
It goes beyond that. There is a powerful cartel in the power sector and until something is done about it and a state of emergency declared in the sector, we will continue to lament poor power supply.
We will issue directives by way of resolutions but the ministry will go behind to embolden DISCOs to disobey us,” he said.