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The unavailability of gas is preventing the generation of over 1,500 megawatts of electricity on a daily basis since the beginning of this year.

Gas-fired power plants contribute about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s total electricity on the national grid. But the latest industry data showed that the thermal plants had been facing gas supply challenges lately.

This is coming as the Nigeria Gas Association, a body made up of gas producers, told our correspondent that power generation companies were not accepting enough gas due to their indebtedness to suppliers.

Findings from the National Control Centre and the Nigeria System Operator, which are arms of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, showed that the drop in power generation as a result of gas constraint since the beginning of this month was in contrast to what obtained in December 2017.

An analysis of the TCN’s different daily reports of the power sector revealed that 2675MW, 3354.3MW, 3133MW, 2839MW, 1418.8MW, 1437.9MW and 1879.7MW could not be generated due to gas challenges on January 2, 3, 4, 6, 13 and 14, respectively.

Further findings for another set of days since the year began showed that 2416.7MW, 2177MW, 1615MW, 1715MW and 2047MW of electricity could not be generated as a result of gas constraint on January 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22, respectively.

This, however, was not the case in December last year, as gas constraint to power generation was not as high as what was recorded in January this year.

For instance, 724MW and 963.2MW of electricity could not be generated due to unavailability of gas on December 8 and 28 last year, while the highest figures of last month were far less than what was recorded in January 2018.

Apart from the system collapses recorded so far in 2018, power generation hovered between 2,660.1MW and 4,000MW. It recorded a peak of 4,932.7MW on January 8, 2018, but this was not sustained, as it crashed to 2,800.7MW the next day.

On why gas constraint had been preventing the generation of over 1,500MW of electricity on a daily basis since the beginning of 2018, the Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Joy Ogaji, said gas suppliers should be held accountable.

“This question should be sent to the gas suppliers,” she said, in a reply to our correspondent’s enquiry.

But gas producers argued that it was wrong to state that unavailability of gas was the reason why power generation companies could not generate over 1,500MW electricity daily.

According to them, gas producers were ready to provide the volume of gas required for the generation of 7,000MW of electricity, as against what was being generated by Gencos across the country.

They, however, stated that Gencos were beginning to default in terms of payment for gas and were not accepting the required volume of gas needed to generate more electricity.

Speaking on behalf of gas producers, the President, NGA, Dada Thomas, said, “When you talk to specific operators, they will tell you that it is the Gencos that are not taking the gas. I’ll give you a good example, in my own operation, we have installed 200 million standard cubic feet of gas supply capability for more than five years.

“But guess what, the off-takers have only taken on average 30 to 40 per cent of that capacity. So, if you say to me that I am the cause of the constraint to power generation, you are definitely telling a lie. That is a complete distortion of the fact.”

Thomas, who is the Managing Director, Frontier Oil Limited, a key upstream oil and gas firm, added, “We have 13,000MW of generation capacity installed in Nigeria, while the technically available capacity is about 7,000MW to 8,000MW. If they (Gencos) blame their inability to meet the technical capacity on gas supply, I’m saying that it is not factually true.

“I’ve given you example that in my own operation I can give Calabar power plant all the gas it wants today, but they never take it and they haven’t been taking it for four years. I can give Ibom Power all the gas it wants but they’ve never taken it; they’ve never taken their full capacity.

“I’ve spoken to other gas suppliers who are in the same situation where the gas off-takers, the Gencos are not taking the full amount of gas that they ought to take. There is certainly enough gas to power the technical generation capacity of 7,000MW, but the Gencos won’t take it. So, how can you say gas constraint when we have a lot of evidence that the gas suppliers are ready to supply?”

The NGA president further noted that many Gencos had not even paid for the volume of gas supplied to them by gas producers.

“The generating companies are not taking the gas and even the gas that they are taking they are not paying for it,” he said.