The Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu has blamed the collapse of national grid which occurred again on Tuesday on maintenance problems and gas shortages.
The minister who spoke to journalists on Wednesday also revealed why the country is yet to make real progress in raising power generation and supply.
He said, “The issue we’re currently facing now, just like I told you, when I came for the press briefing about two weeks ago was not actually only as a result of the drop in the level of water. Most of you captured only that part. That is far from it. It’s not much from that angle.
“The more reason we are facing this situation now is as a result of the shortage of gas and some of the generators have to go to maintenance. It is a scheduled maintenance and it is supposed to be scheduled outage but we have not envisaged that we will have issues around vandalization of pipelines which the NNPC has addressed as you can see evidently everywhere, aviation fuel, and queue for petrol in the filling stations.
“It is a combination of many factors. That compounded the problem we are having on the grid. The generators cannot supply because of lack of gas. Some of you are aware, just two days ago, I summoned an emergency meeting which was unprecedented. For the first time, I brought in all the sector players, from NNPC, AGIP, Shell, the regulator, NERC, the umpire, NBET, some of the GENCOs like Niger Delta Power Company, and TCN, transporter, the ministry, and the Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure. We came together and used the whole day trying to proffer solutions. I challenged all of them. I said this is like a war situation. We need to find solutions. We need to come out with answers. We need quick and emergency solutions. As you rightly put it, the power on the grid has dropped due to those things that affect it; lack of gas and maintenance that some of the generators are undergoing. So, that triggers it.
“You know technology, that drop in the supply that goes down on the grid, it triggers some response, some started to trip down and that also causes the whole system to go down. We had it the day before yesterday, we recovered it. We had it again, we covered it. So, we have covered it now. We are on top of it. The grid is back. We are trying to get more megawatts to push on the grid through that meeting that I told you. So, everybody is now contributing to that meeting. Those things that you have mentioned about bickering, this one saying this, this one saying that is no longer the case because I have told them that we are one. Nobody should blame anybody. Because if you go on the blame game, then how do you solve the problem?
So, it was part of the things the meeting was able to address the day before yesterday. So, we have started seeing the outcome of the meeting. As I leave here today, I will get more information on what I have to go and do. We have set up small committees, two, three committees and all gearing towards getting more megawatts to put on the grid. So, basically, it is around gas. You see you have to have gas contracts between the GENCOs and the gas suppliers, some are firm contracts, some are not. So, all these cases, we are looking into them. And we have proffered some solutions, which may take some few days to mature. So, as I said, if I go out now, I will get some information on where we are. So, this is the situation.
“On what I said last time, we still stand on that. We have a capacity of 8000 megawatts when I was explaining the time I came here. We have the one on the grid, we have the embedded and we have the captive. So, if you combine all of them, we have that. So, what is happening now is as a result of all these problems that we’re encountering, and we’re on top of it. Very soon, we will come out of it. So, where’s the disconnect if she insists that we are still on 5000 and you are maintaining an 8000 status?
“I want you to understand me very well when I speak. I’m not saying that I am insisting on anything…. I told you, this project that we have got approval is to expand the grid. The grid is not that strong. It carries so much load. We have to maintain it and loads it gradually through all this expansion. Let me tell you and give you a typical example, you have a 330 kv line, this is a very high voltage load and you need to take it. Distributor cannot connect from 330 to the community. Then, you have to put a massive substation and drop the 330 to 132 and radiate. This is the expansion. And if you radiate 132 and you continue to extend 132, by the time you extend it further more, you will get light like torch light. So, if it goes further, you need to take 330 up there, then you radiate. So, this is the kind of expansion we are doing. I gave you a typical example of the Benin lot to Osogbo, where we have a line that is stalled due to right of way. It is a 330 line.
“If you take 330 to a particular area, you have created a power cord where it can radiate further and you get quality electricity. So, these are things that we have not been doing for a long time. And this is what this government is set out to be doing. I told you, we have several projects, which between 2015 and now is almost around $4 billion on the transmission and it’s ongoing. And I also told you that we are encountering a lot of challenges of right of ways. For instance, this one is the issue of right of way. But we have gotten approval now, over N5 billion to open up and expand Lagos, Ogun, where presently they may not be enjoying quality electricity. So, we need to do this more. We have not denied that the transmission is not strong to carry load. Otherwise, we have over 13,000 megawatts installed capacity at the GENCOs. But we have been able to do only 5000. So, I hope it’s clear enough. Is that clear?
“Any assurance from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and NNPC that there will be sustained supply of gas even when you recover the grid?
“Yes, that was why I told you I called for the emergency meeting that very day. Before that day, we have problem around PI One. As a typical example, we lost over 300 megawatts, and they were able to repair that pipeline. The PI came back on the grid. We have P2, which we’re talking around it. The work has also started on it. So, there are so many things we are doing. And I told you we were on top of it, and inshaAllah we’ll talk about the one that has been resolved.”
When asked if he said the N1 trillion crisis on the debt owed to GENCOs has been resolved, he responded saying, “I think I’ve spoken all round. On gas issue, this should be one of them. So, we are trying to solve all the problems. For instance, just last time, I told you about the debts owed by the government to DISCOs. I told you we are paying that. We are paying around N40 billion. The remaining balance is being reviewed by consultants to come out with an exact figure. So, something is being done about that. And regarding the GENCOs and the gas suppliers, this is another issue between them and our obligation to the GENCOs is being looked at and we are working on that seriously.”