As a new year (2015)
sets in, most Nigerians wish to know what the power firms particularly the Generating Companies (GENCOS) and Distribution Companies (DISCOS) have for them. With the low efficiency that sparked off and sustained crises in 2014 rule the day, or will the private dominated sector show some improvements in 2015?
As our correspondent samples the feelings of consumers, government officials and authorities of some power firms, divergent views were expressed in hope of a promising future ahead.
Authorities of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) last week rekindled the hope of its customers in Port Harcourt when it promised them better power supply to power the socio-economic activities of the residents and companies which constitute the firms major customer.
However, Chief Nicholas Njoku, a Port Harcourt-based businessman said, “such promises have always been made but they have not been able to change the situation.
Njoku, who condemned the poor supply of PHEDC last year expressed strong need for the firm to live up to the expectations of the people.
“What can Nigeria in its totality be without good power supply? It is high time we got the point clear that our dream of industrialisation would remain a mirage until adequate power supply is given to the people,” said Njoku.
“Yes, PHEDC has made a good promise, but the company should not forget that such a promise has raised people’s expectations and I advise that PHEDC should match its promise with action,” he stated.
A senior staff in the office of Diobu Business Manager of PHEDC who pleaded anonymity said the company is ready to improve on power supply particularly of the volume of gas supplied to the company improves.
“You should understand that the new power firms that took over the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) were relatively new,” he said appealing that the companies which were more or less studying the industry needed some patience, understanding and high level of co-operation from the public.”
“As the days roll by, there is the natural likelihood that improvement would come and when our customers are happy, the power firms would also feel fulfilled,” he stressed.
But the issue of non-availability of metres was raised by Chidinma Okoroafor, a trader at Mile 1 Market in Port Harcourt.
“My concern is that when I sell my goods to customers, they pay me according to the value of the goods in monetary terms. PHEDC does not apply that principle in their business operations,” she said.
Okoroafor is worried that, “PHEDC chooses the amount of power they supply and also forces you to pay any amount it wishes. What kind of business is that,” she queried and noted that until an acceptable mode of payment which must correspondent with services rendered, is applied the promise of better supply is not enough.
She insisted that electricity meter, which is the universal measurement for power supply must determine supply, condemning the outright fixing of pay by the company.
“What annoys me most is that the government appears unconcerned about the cries of the masses and I begin to wonder who protects the people.”
An official of the Rivers State Ministry of Power who identified himself simply as George expressed strong hope that 2015 would come with better supply.
George said, “if you check round in Rivers State, you will observe that more communities especially in the rural areas now have light. I can tell you that more would have power supply because a good number have their rural electrification projects at various completion stages.”
Also expressing hope of better days ahead, a former staff of PHCN, Ihekoronye Obodo, noted that as PHCN operations transited to the new investors, consumers are yet to change their attitude. “They still think that power supply is in the hands of government but that is wrong because private investors are out to make profit to remain in business.”
Obodo solicited for patience and co-operation and expressed hope that with time, the private firms that are daily upgrading their facilities are prepared to improve supply to their customers.
“They must stop the attitude of power stealing because it is criminal, and let government establish special court to handle the issue of power theft, vandalism of power facilities and irregular payment for services used,” he stressed.
“As far as I am concerned, I have told PHEDC to disconnect me because I am no more interested in its power supply or whatever you call of PHEDC is an embarrassment to me because PHCN which was equally poor in service supply is even better than PHEDC,” said another consumer, Cletus Alaye.
Alaye, who said he returned from Canada two years ago would not see any need for PHEDC’s promises, stressing, what have I to do with promises. May be, the firm will ask people to pay for the promise it made. Let them prove to the people that they know how to do their job and until I see light regularly, I will continue to use my private generator.”
He, however, advised the Federal Government not to rely on the DISCOs and GENCOs but to diversify.
“Nigeria as a growing economy should look at the alternative means of supply to the masses. Solar energy, coal and other areas should be given proper attention,” he said and suggested that since so many rivers are in the country, experts should concert these potentials to provide energy.”
The Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, last week disclosed Federal Government’s intention of providing over one million prepaid meters to reduce metering gap nationwide.
The minister, who stated this during a town-hall meeting with stakeholders in Abuja said the intervention was to help electricity distribution companies in which government has 40 per cent equity to reduce the metering gap.
He said the only way to reduce over billing was to provide meters to all consumers in the country.”
“Government still owns 40 per cent of the DISCOs. This is why it is still giving out its own counterpart funding,” Nebo stressed.
On pipeline vandalism, he said plans were underway by the government to digitise the pipelines to forestall vandalism and emphasised the need for a legislation to provide stiffer penalties to punish pipeline vandals.
Several efforts have also been made by the government to upgrade and build new power stations. It is believed that if the incidence of theft for which Nigeria is noted as the highest amongst countries of the world, is checked, meters provided to check the over-billing of power distribution firms to their customers and more dedication to responsible service provision as well as increased improvement on facilities are maintained, 2015 may reduce the so much darkness and provide light for socio-economic advancement of the nation.
US Plans To Reduce Gasoline Prices
The Biden Administration is considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a potential tool to bring down the gasoline prices
Selling millions of barrels from the SPR may do precious little to impact the price of gasoline directly
·If the Administration were to opt for an SPR sale to increase the availability of crude, it could likely release up to 60 million barrels of crude oil
·The Biden Administration is considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a potential tool to bring down the gasoline prices in America that have hit a seven-year high this year.
However, selling millions of barrels from the SPR may do precious little to impact the price of gasoline directly, traders and analysts say.
A sale from the SPR could be one of “tools in the arsenal”—as U.S. President Joe Biden said this weekend – which the Administration could use to relieve the burden on households who have been paying in recent months the highest prices at the pump since 2014.
Yet, the U.S. may be able to release up to a tenth of the current stockpile in the SPR, traders have told Bloomberg. That wouldn’t be enough to bring down gasoline prices as much as the Administration possibly hopes, they warn.
Moreover, most of a potential sale could consist of sour crude grades, which currently are not the favorite of refiners because they need more natural gas—whose prices are much higher now—to process those sour grades into fuels.
SPR Release On The Table After OPEC+ Snub
“The SPR is certainly on the table as an option. The president will have more to say about that,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Friday when asked what America can do now to reduce gasoline prices.
President Biden is considering a release from the SPR as a possible move to reduce gasoline prices in the United States, after OPEC+ ignored on Thursday calls for putting extra barrels on the market, Secretary Granholm told Bloomberg last Friday.
The President could announce measures to address high gasoline prices as soon as this week, Granholm told MSNBC in an interview on Monday.
“Hopefully there will be an announcement or so this week,” Granholm told MSNBC, referring to the President’s possible moves.
“He’s certainly looking at what options he has in the limited range of tools a president might have to address the cost of gasoline at the pump, because it is a global market,” the energy secretary added.
Gasoline Prices Highest Since September 2014
Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline prices continued to climb despite the end of driving season two months ago.
In the week to November 8, “The price at the pump continued its slow climb, rising two cents on the week, with the national average for a gallon of gas hitting $3.42,” AAA said on Monday. That’s the highest since September 2014.
“The latest decision by OPEC and its oil-producing allies to maintain their planned gradual increase in output will not help lessen supply constraints, so any relief will most likely have to come from the demand side,” according to AAA.
Shorter days with the end of the daylight saving time could decrease demand for gasoline in coming weeks, AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said.
SPR Sale Will Likely Be Up To Three Days Of U.S. Petroleum Consumption
If the Administration were to opt for an SPR sale to increase the availability of crude, it could likely release up to 60 million barrels of crude oil, after accounting for mandatory sales pre-approved by Congress and the minimum volumes needed at the storage sites, a source at one of the world’s top oil trading houses told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity.
As of November 5, the SPR held 609.4 million barrels of crude oil, of which 252.5 million sweet crude and 356.9 million sour crude.
A release of up to 60 million barrels in theory would cover around three days worth of total U.S. petroleum consumption, which was 20.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in the pre-pandemic 2019, per EIA data.
According to analysts, an SPR sale wouldn’t do much to reduce prices at the pump and relieve the burden on households amid inflationary pressure for all other goods.
“Other Tools In The Arsenal”
President Biden hinted during the weekend of “other tools in the arsenal” to tame rallying gasoline prices.
“There are other tools in the arsenal that we have to deal — and I’m dealing with other countries; at an appropriate time, I will talk about it — that we can get more energy in the — in the pipeline, figuratively and literally speaking,” President Biden said, referring to the oil market after OPEC+ snubbed the U.S. Administration’s call for extra supply.
On Monday, eleven Democratic Senators wrote a letter to President Biden “to express our support for your efforts to help families and businesses across the nation who are struggling to cope with soaring gasoline prices.”
“Continued U.S. exports and overseas supply collusion could be devastating to many in our states, contributing to higher bills for American families and businesses,” the Senators, including Elizabeth Warren, said.
“In light of these pressing concerns, we ask that you consider all tools available at your disposal to lower U.S. gasoline prices. This includes a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and a ban on crude oil exports. We hope you will consider these tools and others to make gasoline more affordable for all Americans,” the Senators wrote.
Faced with the highest gasoline prices in seven years and one of the worst fears of every American president—high prices at the pump, the U.S. Administration with the long-term clean energy agenda is now scrambling to provide immediate relief to people’s gasoline and energy bills.
FG Increases Prices Of Electricity Meters
The Federal Government has raised the cost of both single-phase and three-phase electricity meters.
In a circular dated November 11, 2021, issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, price of a single-phase meter has been increased from the current cost of N44,896.17 to a revised price of N58,661.69.
It also increased the price of a three-phase meter from the current cost of N82,855.19 to a revised rate of N109,684.36.
The memo with reference number NERC/REG/MAP/GEN/751/2, entitled ‘Review of the unit price of end-use meters under the Meter Asset Provider and National Mass Metering Regulations’; managing directors, all electricity distribution companies and all meter asset providers are to effect the increment from November 15, 2021.
Seplat Energy Distances Self From Chairman
Seplat Energy Plc has said that an ex parte order granted by the Federal High Court in Lagos has barred it from doing business with its Chairman, Dr. ABC Orjiako, and two energy firms.
A statement from the company on Tuesday, signed by its Director, Legal and Company Secretary, Mrs. Edith Onwuchekwa, said: “Seplat Energy has been made aware of the ex parte Interim Orders of Mareva Injunctions which were granted by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Nigeria in a court action instituted by Zenith Bank Plc against Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited and eight others, with an additional 29 cited parties.
“The Interim Orders give an administrative mandate to Seplat Energy Plc and others not to deal with the assets of (or transfer funds to) Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited, Shebah Petroleum Development Company Limited and Dr. A.B.C. Orjiako.
“The order has no impact on the operations of Seplat Energy. We understand the injunction relates to loans made by Zenith Bank Plc to Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited in 2014.”
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