Egbin, five other power plants shut down as fire guts gas pipeline
The noticeable improvement in power supply in recent weeks risk being disrupted for sometime with the shutting down of the country’s largest power plant, Egbin and five other power plants in the South West.
This follows a total system collapsed which was experienced on Tuesday as result of fire incident on the Escravos to Lagos gas pipeline system, near Okada, in Edo State which affected gas supply to the power plants.
The Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company Limited (NGPTC) reported a fire incident on its Escravos Lagos Pipeline System near Okada, Edo State on Tuesday, January 2.
The power plants affected are Egbin 1,320MW; Olorunsogo NIPP 676MW, Olorunsogo 338MW, Omotosho NIPP 450MW, Omotosho 338 MW and Paras 60MW power stations.
Though the six power plants are not operating at full capacity but their combined installed capacities is put at 3,182megawatts of electricity.
According to an industry source, Egbin Power plant was generating about 550 megawatts of electricity before the system collapsed occurred on Tuesday. It however recovered and started generating about 177 megawatts on Wednesday morning because it was still receiving some gas pressure, which could make the plants generate some level of electricity. But the NGPTC later called and said the plant should be shut down.
The NGPTC according to the source, had to call the management of Egbin and other power plants to shut down so that it can carry out proper assessment of the pipeline.
Our source however disclosed that they are expecting the NGPTC to get back to the managements of the power plants by Wednesday evening on the next line of action.
However, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Maikanti Baru, released a statement on Wednesday evening disclosing that he has ordered an immediate assessment of the damage caused by the fire on the Escarvos to Lagos Pipeline (ELP), which supplies gas to power plants in the South West in addition to feeding the West Africa Gas Pipeline System.
The NNPC statement explained that a bush fire caused the incineration of the ELP, which was built in 1989.
“NNPC firemen were drafted to the scene and were able to contain the fire from the leak point of the pipeline incident. However, the fire could not be extinguished due to the high pressure of the line.”
“To put off the fire, the line would require being isolated and depressurized, which might lead to a complete shutdown of the pipeline segment for repair works to be carried out,” the statement said.
The statement said further that the exercise will affect gas supply to customers in Ondo, Ogun and Lagos State with subsequent shutdown of the following power plants with a combined generating capacity of 1,143MW: Egbin, Lagos, Olorunshogo, PEL Olorunshogo, Ogun, Paras Power Plant, Ogun and Omotosho plant, Ondo State.
Earlier on Tuesday night, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola also released a statement explaining the sudden loss of power across the country, which had attracted a lot of comments on social media.
Fashola explained that the sudden loss of generation is due to interruption in gas supply, which caused the national transmission grid to trip off around 20:20 on 2nd January 2018. The national transmission grid is owned and operated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Most of Nigeria’s power generation is from thermal power stations that require gas for fuel. Oil and gas companies, overseen by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, produce the gas. The gas is delivered to the power stations through pipelines owned and operated by Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company Ltd (NGPTC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).
However, the Minister assured that the TCN and the generation companies are working to restore operation of the national grid. Once the national grid is restored output from the hydroelectric power stations and all other unaffected gas fired thermal power stations will be increased to the extent possible to minimize the impact of loss of generation from the affected power stations while NNPC takes necessary steps to restore gas supply.
“We urge members of the public to bear with us as we work to overcome this set back which should be temporary”.
This incident of system collapse once again highlights the vulnerability of the national grid, which recorded 14 collapses between January and July 2017.
On December 18, TCN announced that a new national peak of 5,222.3MW of electricity has been attained, which is expected to marginally improve power supply across the country. TCN currently has capacity to wheel about 7,000mw while the national generation capacity is put at about 12,000 mw.
Babatunde Fashola Minister of Power, Works and Housing while giving the keynote address at the French Week organised by the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos last November, said the completion of on-going power projects could ramp Nigeria’s available generating capacity to 9,000mw.
Some of the projects expected to be delivered to include Azura Power in Edo state with 450MW capacity, Afam power plant in Rivers State with 240MW, a thermal power plant with 227MW capacity in Alaoji, Abia state, a 225 gas fired plant in Egbema, Imo state and a 215 MW dual fired Kaduna Power Plant.
Others are the 254MW capacity Gbarain power plant project, built by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), 40MW Kashimbilla plant in Taraba state, 29MW Dadin Kowa hydro power plant in Gombe State. There is also a 10MW wind farm in Katsina, 30mw Gurara Hydro power plant in Niger State. The 700MW Zungeru hydro project is set to be completed in 2019.
However, the distribution companies cannot still distribute above 4000mw and continue to reject power, which presents a peculiar challenge for TCN.
“The entire (grid) infrastructure is essentially radial, without redundancies thus creating inherent reliability issues. At an average of approximately 7.4 percent, the transmission losses across the network are high compared to emerging countries’ benchmarks of two to six percent. All these reflect the critical infrastructure and operational challenges in the transmission subsector of the industry,” says the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Olusola Bello, Isaac Anyaogu and Innocent Odoh, Abuja
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