One of the pillars of the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda is the generation and supply of 6,000 megawatts electricity to Nigerians for both domestic and industrial uses by the end of December, 2009. The Federal Government’s goal in this respect is to increase the power generation capacity from the present level of about 2,500megawatts, to at least, 6,000megawatts to be able to bridge the yawning gap in the power generation and consumption equation. To achieve this objective, the government declared state of emergency in the power sector, and made significant budget allocation to some strategic power generation infrastructure projects across the country.
One of such projects is the Mambilla hydropower project. In addition to this are a host of power generation projects under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states, among others. The NIPPs are expected to add steam to some of the state government-driven power generation projects and other private sector initiatives, in a concerted effort to meet the Federal Government’s target of 6,000megawatts by the end of this year.
Rivers State is one prominent state in the federation that has taken a giant leap to ensure self-sufficiency in power generation, transmission and distribution to consumers. Kwara State is another, which only recently commissioned its power generation facility near Ilorin, the state capital. But let’s look at Rivers State as an example.
With three power stations at Eleme, Tans Amadi and Omoku, the government has intensified efforts to check intermittent power cuts from the supply lines of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to electricity consumers in the state. The government’s strategy is to increase its independent power generation capacity by about 350megawatts, which is conservatively the capacity, needed to meet the electricity requirements of all residents of the state, including industrial consumers. The huge investment in this sector clearly points to the seriousness the administration attaches to stable power supply as an elixir to speedy socio-economic growth and development of the state. When this is achieved, the state can then begin to reap the fruit of sustainable development.
Of course, the stability of the power situation means the vibrancy of the entire system, progress and prosperity of the people. Thus, the result of a stable power supply environment would translate to employment generation and capacity development for all employable, full industrial capacity utilisation, improved productivity, quality and cheaper goods and services. Other benefits include reduction in crime rate and violence, trimmed poverty level, enhanced human capacity development and education, higher purchasing power, fluid society, and an environment enmeshed in peace, mutual happiness and concord. This is what the Rivers State Government wants to accomplish by its massive investment in the power sector.
This is also what the Federal Government wants to achieve across the country with the litany of national power projects dotted all over the states. In an effort to strengthen the Federal Government’s drive for 6,000megawatts electricity by the end of this year, the private sector, especially those operating in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, have also committed huge resources into projects to scale up the national power generation capacity. The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria is one of such companies with a number of power and gas generation infrastructures in the Niger Delta. One of its strategic infrastructures is the Afam VI Combined Cycle Power Project (AVICCPP) located in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Afam VI Power Project has two components: An integrated power facility and a gas plant. The power facility has a nameplate capacity of 650megawatts, which is an increase of 20 per cent of current national power generation capacity. On the other hand, the Okoloma gas plant has a nameplate capacity of some 240 million cubic feet of gas per day, which will feed the Afam VI facility as well as the Nigerian Gas Company network of pipelines to domestic and industrial users in the country. The gas facility will also boost the current national capacity by 20 per cent.
While the power facility is currently supplying 450megawatts electricity to the national grid, managed by Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the gas plant is now feeding the nameplate capacity to NGC pipeline, which is now boosting national gas supply level to both domestic and industrial users. Now, the steam turbines are being synchronised to manage the waste heat from the plant to generate a further 200megawatts of very-low emission electricity, to be fed into the national grid before the end of the year. These facilities are now waiting for President Yar’Adua’s official commissioning to add fillip to the realisation of a key aspect of the 7-Point Agenda. These are significant feats that deserve commendation.
Perhaps, it is because of the impact of the facilities on the national quest for self-sufficiency in power generation and supply, as epitomised in President Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda, and the need to recognise Shell’s commitment to the Federal Government’s aspirations, that the Minister of State for Petroleum, Odein Ajumogobia, visited the Afam VI facility two weeks ago. The minister’s visit to this important facility is significant in many ways. It crystallises the value the Federal Government attaches to the quest to raise the national power capacity, and stabilise electricity supply to millions of Nigerians.
Ajumogobia’s visit and nod to the project obviously signifies that the next step will soon be taken by the Federal Government to officially commission the facility. His report to the Minister of Petroleum, Dr Rilwanu Lukman, and indeed, to President Yar’Adua will, therefore, set the stage for the next government step toward the celebration of yet another milestone in the quest to address the ugly power situation in the country.
The minister’s assessment of the facility and his expression of excitement at the extent of work done by the company to contribute to enhancing the energy supply equation in Nigeria are clear vindication of the commitment of Shell to key into all meaningful and development-driven government initiatives. His expression of satisfaction with the project shows that the government’s drive to achieve 6,000megawatts by the end of this year has received a boost.
He is not the only one that has expressed such feelings. Members of the Senate Committee on Gas, led by their Chairman, Sen Osita Izunaso also visited the facility last year, and thumbed up Shell for embarking on the magnificent project. They, indeed, rated the project as one of the best in the world not just because of the quantum of power and gas it was designed to generate to bridge the national gap, but because of the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technologies deployed in its construction. These technologies would ensure operational efficiency, quality power and gas generation, low emissions of greenhouse gases and near zero adverse impact on the environment, which also addresses the climate change concern similar facilities elsewhere have exacerbated. Thus, the government would be solving too many problems with just one power project in Afam.
In fact, the Afam integrated power and gas project, awarded in 2005, took less than three years to achieve first electricity supply to the national grid in 2008. The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria began starting up the Afam VI power facility and the Okoloma gas plant in Rivers State, barely one year ago. Now, the facility is supplying electricity to millions of Nigerians in the Niger Delta and elsewhere as well as supporting the nation’s economic growth by enhancing the energy supply chain to lubricate the already rustic system.
The Afam VI power project is the largest of its kind in the country, and would generate the much needed electricity to facilitate access to power supply for many Nigerians who have had shortages in the supply chain for decades. Apart from offering consumers more reliable electricity supply, the facility would also provide a cleaner low-emission alternative to the diesel and petrol generators now widely used when blackouts occur.
The Okoloma gas plant is another facility put together with modern technologies to remove liquids present in gas when it comes out of the ground, a process necessary before it can be used in the gas network or to generate electricity. This advanced technology design, experts say, is less costly and more reliable to operate than the older technologies which add chemicals to segregate or unitise the gas from the ground. The integrated plants have solved more problems for Nigerians: Reduction in gas flaring in the area, reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases, increased access to electricity and gas to many domestic and industrial users.
It is important to note that the achievement of 6,000megawatts electricity supply to Nigerians by the end of this year, under the 7-Point Agenda, would mean a lot of things to the country. It would mean more employment opportunities for the teeming youths, and improved productivity at the industrial and manufacturing levels. This would unleash economic vibrancy, reduce crime rate, poverty level, stabilise the homestead and encourage more Nigerians to be happy with the system, enhance social interactions, and strengthen peace and sustainable development in the nation. All these would tilt the pendulum to a stable democracy, and a society of happy, law-abiding people.
That is the goal of the Yar’Adua administration, which the 7-Point Agenda strives to address, particularly the power aspect of the programme. And the Afam VI power project fits into this as an instrument for addressing the challenges facing the government. That is why Ajumogobia is excited with the project as it directly impacts the objectives of the Yar’Adua government. This also reflects the mood of Shell management, which was palpable in Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, SPDC managing director’s expression during the minister’s visit.
Sunmonu had said, “this is an extremely important project for Nigeria. The Afam VI and Okoloma plants are making a real impact on the quality of life of millions of people. We are proud to support the government in its efforts to provide more energy for Nigerians”. This is no doubt true. And it is a good commentary in a country where most government policies and decisions have tended to annoy the people rather than excite them. At least, this one excites the minds of many, because the road to 6,000megawatts electricity supply to Nigerians looks shorter now than before.