Opinion

Eyo Ekpo: Lessons From Geregu, The Two Sisters & Simultaneous Sequentiality (PT 1)

Contemplating an unpalatable 5-day weekend in Abuja, created by order of the Federal Government to ease up movement for the World Economic Forum, Abuja (automatically tells you when this was written), I decided to bring forward my plan to visit Geregu Power Plc, Ajaokuta, Kogi State. So, off we went on a very rainy early Thursday morning, “we” being my colleagues from NERC, Abdulkadir and Effiom, the most careful driver in the world, Usman, my very excited 9-year old son, K-Boy and, of course, your humble servant.

After a 3-hour drive on the Abuja-Lokoja road, driving through the hard-to-believe-this-is-a-State-capital town of Lokoja and on to Ajaokuta, we arrived. As we motored past the Ajaokuta Steel Mill, my mind went back 21 years to my first Mercedes-Benz car, PL2200S, a 12-year old Type W123, which my friends and I called “Ajaokuta”…because I was always fixing one problem or the other in that thing.

Anyway, there are two separate power plants at Ajaokuta. One is Geregu Power Plc, formerly a “NEPA” plant, started in 2002 and commissioned in 2007. It was recently privatised by the sale of 51% equity to the Amperion Consortium, comprising Nigerian, Israeli and Chinese partners. There’s also the power plant built right next door (they even share a common compound with one outer gate and only a dividing wall separating within the compound) under the National Independent Power Projects (NIPP) programme. This second plant was commissioned very recently in Q4 2013.

Both power plants are almost literally identical. Each is powered by 3 Siemens GT5-2000E open cycle gas turbines. They practically have the same balance of plant. The only difference between them is that the newer plant has more modern turbine blades. For this reason, while the older plant’s turbines are rated at 138MW each, the newer blades deliver a maximum capacity of 146MW each when conditions (ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure) are optimal, which is quite often.

So, both plants are ordinarily capable of delivering 852MW…when all is well with seemingly minor issues such as gas supply.

Thus, gas and electricity are the two sisters that, in Nigeria, complement each other. Sitting in NERC, it is clear that the relationship is mutually dependent. Neither an electricity market nor a domestic gas market can develop without both working very closely together. Let’s go back to Ajaokuta and look at those two power plants and their combined 852MW.

A good rule of thumb to use is that burning 1 million standard cubic feet of gas per day or MMscfd produces about 3.5MW of electric capacity. Which means Geregu Power Plc needs approximately 118mmscf/d of gas, while NIPP Geregu needs 129mmscf/d. There is a 24-inch natural gas pipeline operated to the two plants by Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) Ltd from Seplat Plc’s Oben gas processing plant in Edo State.

The gas in that pipeline is sold by Seplat Plc, which for now has the capacity to deliver no more than 90mmscf/d. This is barely a quarter of what is required. By the way, this gas supply is shared with the power plant next door, which means instead of 850MW daily, we receive barely 300MW. Put differently, at the best of times only 2 our of the 6 gas turbines at the two Geregu power stations can be fired on any given day. FYI, there will be no other gas available from Seplat until it completes its processing capacity expansion to 300mmscf/d…in 2016.

What’s the big deal with providing gas to power our turbines and give us electricity? Come back tomorrow.

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Article read and culled with the Permission from Eyo Ekpo’s Blog

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