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Towards Effective Power Sector Reform

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The power sector is one of those sectors of the Nigerian economy that has received critical attention within the past 57 years of the corporate existence of the country as an independent state.
As part of measures to attain desired impact and maximal results in the power sector, vast treaties and hypothesis have been made over the past years, while billions of tax payers money have been sunked in.
The prospect of development, remains but a flicker, a mere shallow reflection of the expected breakthrough from the huge investment invested into the sector.
However, as the country marks its 57 independence celebration, Nigerians are desirous of the full dividends of the huge investment in the power sector.
The fact been that effective power supply is what is needed in the country to drive entrepreneurial growth and enterprise development among the teeming masses and create job opportunities.
Pundits have blamed the challenges in Nigeria power sector reforms on many factors.
One of such factors identified is the use of similar approach or methodology in solving power sector problems, thereby resulting in same old inefficiencies.
Apart from apparent diversion of fund meant for the resuscitation of the ailing sector, the lack of input of real technocrats and experts in policy making and implementation, has also been pointed as been responsible for the woes in the sector.
Musing over the prospect of development in the Nigerian power sector, an expert, Engr. Isaac Adekanya said the lapses in the sector reform were traceable to some missing links in the operation of the power sector.
Adekanya, who is the Port Harcourt branch Chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Electronic, Electrical engineers, disclosed in an exclusive interview with The Tide, that the Nigerian power sector was yet to attain synergy in the three major areas that constitute the sector, such as Power Generation (Genco) power Distribution (DISCO) and Power Transmission (Transco).
According to him, not all the power generated in the country are transmitted and distributed to the end users.
“There are a lot of technical challenges in the generation, transmission and distribution of power in the country. Most of the power projects carried out in the country have no consideration for the distribution and transmission of the generated electricity to the end users. An example is the Omoku power project, which is a huge investment but had not been able to make maximal impact because of the challenges of transmission and distribution”.
Adekanya, who is also a fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers said similar challenges exist in the transmission of generated electricity to the National Electricity Centre at Osogbo. He said most of the power generated are wasted along the line before they get to the end users.
In his view, the concentration of generated electricity at the Osogbo Power Centre where the needs of consumers across the country are decided may not be serving the best interest of the various sections of the country.
He noted that such discretionary measures in the allocation of power may not truly represent the electricity demands of the various states of the nation.
Alternatively, Engr. Adekanya suggested that power generation, transmission and distribution should be based on comparative economic advantage, as the various parts of the nation have peculiar natural advantages in strategic location of energy sources.
“The various parts of Nigeria are disposed with vast energy sources that can be explored based on comparative advantage. In the north, there is abundance of solar energy source, in the middle belt there are rivers that can be harnessed for hydro power generation while the Niger Delta is blessed with enormous gas potentials for thermal energy.
“These energy sources can be explored fully to serve the power need of the various areas where they are located. The idea of evacuating generated power to Osogbo before distribution may not be entirely the best option for the country. Nigerians are in serious need of electricity to do their business. It is regrettable that at 57, the country still runs a generator economy”.
Adekanya, who is a proponent of diversification as the panacea for effective power sector reform, also faulted the allocation of the DISCO by the federal government.
He said the DISCOs were given out on political consideration rather than competence and liberalisation.
He noted that the conspicuous absence, or non involvement of experts with the requisite technical knowhow in the DISCO stifles development in the sub-sector, as those involved are more concerned about profit motive than effective service delivery.
He therefore advocated for full liberalisation of the DISCO for more players to be involved on a note of competition in service delivery as in the case of the telecommunication industry.
In his submission, another expert in renewable energy, Elder Elkanah Hanson said the future of Nigeria’s industrialisation depended on renewable energy which is a global phenomenon.
Elder hanson, who spoke with The Tide correspondent in Port Harcourt recently, said nations of the world are taking advantage of renewable energy to serve their electricity needs.
The elder statesman, pointed out that Nigerian electricity laws were based on colonial orientation and as such do not serve our peculiar development need.
To attain sustainable development in power sector reforms, he called for a total revocation of the obsolete electricity laws and adoption of inventions that are best suited for our polity.
Elder Hanson, who described the concentration of generated electricity at Osogbo as “economic piracy”, said the major problem with Nigeria was its behemoth federal status, that disposses the component units of the country from developing at their own pace.
He called for total restructuring of the centralised federal structure of the country and added that electricity should not be the exclusive reserve of the Federal Government.
“At 57 Nigeria has come of age and should not be toddling again. It is ridiculous that we are still battling with defects in the power sector, our value system must change. The fight against corruption must be thorough and complete. The Federal Government should declare a state of emergency in the power sector. The lumping of power ministry with works and housing is wrong. The power ministry should be made to stand on its own and an expert should be saddled with the responsibility of running the ministry”.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has stated that it was not against states building their own power projects to support incremental power.
Minister of power, works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola disclosed this at a meeting of the National Council of Power (NACOP) held in Jos, Pleateau State recently.
The minister explained that the law allows states to embark on electricity distribution under license through the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Fashiola further hinted that in the Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRC) of the Federal Government, states are vested with enormous responsibilities to ensure that, “their residents comply with safety standards on building by not building on the right of way of 332/133,33 and 11KVA lines”.
He also urged states to encourage their residents to pay for consumed energy while the metering issue and estimated billing is addressed.
Fashola, who described the meter system as cost effective, called on state governments to set up debt verification teams with audit capacity to ascertain the debt profile and develop a payment plan which can be budgeted for. This he noted will help liquidity issues and contribute to the power sector reforms.
Considering the importance of power in the economic development of any nation, the 57th Independence anniversary of Nigeria offers an avenue for a critical review of the power sector for better service delivery.
The fact remains that competence and not politics should be the criteria for participation in the power sector. This will give more room for innovation and efficiency.

Taneh Beemene

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Oil & Energy

Reactions Trail Protest At NLNG Facility In Bonny

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Reactions are now trailing the protest by Finima community against the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited in Bonny, Rivers State and the counter protest, which led to destruction of properties and bodily injuries on the protesters.
The lawmaker representing Bonny/Degema Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Farah Dagogo, said the protest and the unfortunate violence would not have happened, if oil and gas multinationals operating in the Niger Delta, were doing things the right way.
Dagogo who described the violence as unfortunate, said it was a sad reflection of the sour relationship that now exist between companies and their host communities, as brothers were being pitched against brothers.
He urged the aggrieved people of Finima Community and all others in Bonny LGA to sheath their swords, adding that other means of getting a workable solution that would be beneficial to all, are being explored.
“The violence that was witnessed in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State between Finima community youths and other alleged youths of the LGA was unfortunate, and a sad reflection of the sour and acrimonious relationship that now exist between companies and their host communities.
“The peaceful protest against the NLNG, over the propriety or otherwise of a General Memorandum of Understanding, which was intercepted and later turned violent that has now left many injured and properties razed, would not have been necessary in the first place if things were done the right way.
“While apportioning blames now may not get the desired outcome , it is nevertheless instructive to note that the people of Finima Community and the various impacted communities in the Niger Delta and beyond, where the NLNG gas pipeline passed through, are within their rights to legitimately demand for what is theirs,” Farah said.
Meanwhile, the management of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, has confirmed that there was a protest and counter protest, which led to blockade of the major routes to its facility in Bonny Island on Thursday.
NLNG General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Eyono Fatayi-Williams, in a statement said as a good corporate citizen, the company applies the principle of fairness and inclusiveness in engaging with its esteemed stakeholders.
“The Company has always considered all stakeholders in the community trusted partners, and it continues to maintain this position.
“NLNG remains fully committed to sustainable development in the kingdom, hinged on active community participation to drive initiatives and projects that positively impact the lives of the community.”

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This Tiny Country Could Become Europe’s Newest Oil Producer

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It is rather rare to see enthusiasm for completely new exploration projects in Europe. The overwhelming majority of OECD countries are either in terminal decline or are looking into ways how to ban exploration altogether. The less-appraised parts of Eastern Europe might still have some potential yet in the absence of oil majors such endeavors risk remaining a lifelong pipe dream. Still, the appearance of a new European frontier can rekindle upstream hopes (even if for a short period of time). Europe’s latest addition to the list of nations willing to tap into their prospective hydrocarbon resources is located in the southeast of the Old Continent, in Montenegro. The small ex-Yugoslav republic with just slightly more than 600 000 inhabitants has witnessed its first offshore well spudded on March 25, 2021. The 4118-5-1 wildcat was drilled in 100 meters of water to a total depth of 6525 meters, some 25km from the Montenegrin shore.
The first offshore Montenegrin well was spudded by the ENI-NOVATEK tandem, with the Italian major taking on the reins of operatorship. Given the geographic proximity, ENI’s interest in offshore Montenegro is quite understandable and was to be expected. In case of any discovery, ENI has the convenient option of accommodating prospective production within its system, the Italian shore is only 500km from the wildcat’s location. The first well is targeting an oil reservoir at depths of 6.5km, implying that the Italian major’s 120kbpd Taranto Refinery might be a safe backstop for any potential crude produced. Along with Total, ENI has been one of the most active drillers in the Mediterranean, marking suchsupergiant discoveries as the Egyptian Zohr or the Cypriot Calypso. Across the Adriatic from Montenegro, ENI has been developing the Aquila field offshore Brindisi,producing medium density crude of some 36° API.
The case for NOVATEK’s participation in an offshore project is much more peculiar, considering that the Russian gas producer has no assets in the Adriatic.Moreover, NOVATEK is on the US’ Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List, meaning that equity investments and financing matters are substantially encumbered. Luckily for the Russian firm, offshore Montenegro does not fall under any of the three sanctioned areas, Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore, and shale. Domestically, NOVATEK is heavily focused on gas production on the Gydan peninsula and in the surrounding area, compelling it to seek new niches it can fill, new frontiers that could serve as bases for future growth. In a sense, NOVATEK needs to overgrow its LNG specialization and gain market-relevant competence in other segments, too.
NOVATEK’s first step into the foreign offshore segment took place in Lebanon where it landed two offshore blocks in a consortium with Total and ENI in 2018. In both cases NOVATEK did not lay claims to operatorship, focusing on building up key relationships with Europe’s leading drillers. It seems very likely that it is from the Lebanese joint experience that the Montenegrin drilling ambition branched out into a separate work track. Concurrently, although Montenegro is one of the hottest candidates for EU accession, Podgorica remains beyond the bounds of the European Union. For NOVATEK this is a great boon, as sanctions risk can be negotiated directly with the relevant national authorities, i.e. no involvement of Brussels is required.
Technically,the Montenegrin offshore area has already seen exploration drilling, though that was back in the SFRY (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) times, in 1980. Although Yugoslavia was a socialist country with all its peculiarities, it was the US major Chevron that was the operator of drilling operations. The Jadran Juzni (Southern Adria) prospect turned out to wield signs of oil and gas systems which, however, were deemed non-commercial,effectively closing Chevron’s offshore endeavors in Yugoslavia. It needs to be pointed out that the current wildcat is farther off the Montenegrin coast the Jadran Juzni well was only 3km from shore. To carry out the drilling, the ENI-NOVATEK tandem contracted the Topaz Driller, a Panama-flagged jack-up drilling rig. The contract was clinched in July 2020, for drilling operations starting in Q1 2021 and taking up to 180 days.
Up to now the work progress of ENI-NOVATEK seems fairly solid. In late 2018 their contractor has carried out a comprehensive 3D seismic survey on the 4118-5 Block, then the summer of 2019 witnessed a string of hydrophysical and geophysical surveys on the prospects. Having completed this, it was assumed that the spudding of the first well would take place in 2020, however, the coronavirus-triggered chaos upended all plans and effectively delayed the wildcat into 2021. Most probably the Italo-Russian joint venture will drill 2 wildcats. Even if the first well turns out to be completely dry or non-commercial, the second well (expected to be spudded in May-June 2021) is targeting gas plays at lower depths, i.e. the first well’s fiasco does not automatically foreshadow the failure of the second well.
According to media reports, it will take ENI 4-5 months to finalize the drilling of the wildcat and assess the results. Nevertheless, Montenegro’s offshore zone might more activity coming up in the upcoming months. The Greek Energean holds 2 license blocks (4219-26 and 4218-30) and is expected to take a decision on whether it intends to proceed with drilling exploratory wells in its acreage. The data to assess the blocks’ resource bounty is already there, Energean carried out 3D seismic surveying on both blocks in 2019 already. The spark of interest towards its off shore zone might compel the Montenegrin authorities to expedite a 2nd offshore bidding round which would presumably cover the 7 remaining unallotted blocks. There is very little probability that Podgorica will be trying to auction off onshore blocks,especially considering their history of dry wells.
Katona is a contributor.

 

By: Viktor Katona

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Oil & Energy

‘NCDMB’ll Not Invest In Businesses With Competitive Private Players’

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The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), has said that it only partners with strategic policies and projects that are promoted by the Federal Government and would not invest in oil and gas businesses that have competitive private players.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, made the clarification recently when he hosted members of the Women in Energy Oil and Gas (WEOG) Nigeria, led by their President, Dr. Oladunni Owo at the Board’s liaison office in Abuja.
He clarified that the Board would not invest in competitive business areas because such investments would compromise its morale position as a regulatory agency.
“Our role is to act as a catalyst of strategic government policies and programmes and we exit once those businesses become successful,” he added.
He also stated that NCDMB is a regulatory agency and not an interventionist organisation and would not get involved in programmes outside its mandate.
According to him, in line with the Board’s vision to serve as a catalyst for the industrialisation of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors, the NCDMB has partnered with investors in modular refineries, manufacturing of LPG cylinders, LPG Depots, gas processing facilities, lube oil production plant, and a methanol plant using gas as feed stock.
Speaking further, Wabote listed some policies introduced by the Board to support women in the oil and gas industry to include the inauguration of the Diversity Sectorial Working Group in the Nigerian Content Consultative Forum (NCCF) and the creation of the Women in Oil and Gas Product in the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund).
He explained that the Bank of Industry (BoI) is responsible for managing the NCI Fund, assessing applications and disbursing loans to approved companies.
He said “the NCI Fund is one of the most successful loan schemes. About 98 percent of the borrowers are paying back because we go through a very rigorous process”.
Dwelling on the Project 100 Initiative of the Board, the Executive Secretary stated that it was designed to nurture 100 wholly owned oil and gas service providers in a competitive and sustainable way through targeted interventions, into larger scale players that create high impact.

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