Gas leak hell in Enugu state and other problems plaguing the country’s power sector could aggravate gas to power challenges in Nigeria, writes OPEOLUWANI AKINTAYO
The everlasting gas-to-electric challenges plaguing the power sector may not subside soon, having been made worse by the Caritas University gas leak.
The inferno gas leak around Caritas University, Amorji-Nike, Enugu State, which started on May 25, 2022 and is still burning at press time, has exacerbated the low gas supply problem. gas and electricity currently affecting the country.
The results showed that the gas leak, which eventually caused a fire near the university, started when the university community was first trying to dig a borehole.
However, as they drilled deeper into the ground, about 290 meters (about 1,000 ft) out of the targeted 350 meters, they hit a gas pipeline which eventually started a fire.
The punch found that although no lives were lost except for one person who suffered a severe facial burn, the gas leak and fire continued unabated.
The electricity sector has recently been hit by a low gas supply, with most parts of the country experiencing blackouts lasting several days. The gas leak entered its three-week run on June 8.
Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorers, Dr James Edet, who spoke to The PUNCH, said the amount of gas lost from the flare at the site was still unknown as the fire was still burning, which made it impossible for anyone to go near the site.
“You can’t go more than 15 meters from the place because of the heat,” he said. The punch.
Although Caritas University is about 50-100m from the site of the eruption, the school playground is close to the site of the fire.
“The flame releases hydrocarbon into the air. Although the immediate effect is not visible now, the cumulative effect is what we think. The surge has been going on for over a week, and we believe it could last around a month before things can be put into perspective,” he added.
In addition to the risks that such a flare poses to human life and property, a month of continuous flare – day and night – is a huge loss for the country, including for the electricity sector including 21 power plants electric out of 23 run on gas.
The punch noticed that power generation has hovered below 2000 MW since hell broke out.
It was understood that the point of the gas explosion has not yet been reached due to the huge fire which would be burning about 15 meters above the ground.
Some preliminary measures like pouring cement and sand into the hole created by the explosion were employed as a means of stopping the fire, but all efforts seem insufficient to extinguish the fire.
In a warning note, a geologist, Dr Princeton Dim, said: “The problem with using such a mechanism to stop the fire is that you may think it is subsiding, but now you have other shallow leaks because they are gas. Although there are no casualties now, we must be careful because any mutilation or unprofessional solution may lead to more danger. It’s not a disaster yet, but it could be, and it’s worse because it’s gas, which is highly flammable and needs to be dealt with by professionals.
NAPE President Edet advised the public to exercise caution when visiting the site to avoid burns and other risks associated with this type of torch (water and gas leakage).
Although remediation efforts have been made by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, the National Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, the National Emergency Management Agency, including federal and state fire departments, Edet told the PUNCH that “a more technical agency is needed.”
The Director General of the Commission, NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, in a statement, said it had been confirmed that there was no pipeline right-of-way in the area, but the incident was caused by the activities of some contractors who were drilling a water well on the university. local.
He said it was learned that the university had engaged the services of HydroGeo Engineering Services to drill a water well, but the work was then contracted out to Orange Water Wells Drilling Company.
According to him, during the drilling, pressurized seepage was encountered after about 200 meters and fumes were escaping from the drilled hole.
Following the incident, the school management reportedly asked the students to go home until further notice.
The university founded by a Catholic priest, the Reverend Father Emmanuel Ede, has yet to release an unofficial statement on the incident.
Shortage of gas-for-power generation has recently led to poor performance of the country’s 21 gas-fired power plants, survey finds The punch
The Department of Energy over the weekend confirmed The punch conclusions when he issued a statement, apologizing to the public for the current drop in power supply and said there had been a partial shutdown of the Oben gasworks to repair equipment gas treatment review.
The statement signed by Special Advisor to the Minister of Energy, Isa Sanusi, said that “the incident unfortunately occurred at a time when other power plants on other gas sources are undergoing planned maintenance and ability tests.
Spokesperson for Eko Electricity Distribution Company, EKEDC, Godwin Idemudia told The PUNCH that the station is currently receiving a low allocation from the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
According to Idemudia, on Saturday the load allocated to it was only 240 MW out of the 861 MW planned.
The TCN had blamed the situation on a combination of issues ranging from gas constraints, outages and technical problems within the power plants, which resulted in persistently low generation and, consequently, low load allocation to utility companies. nationwide distribution.
“This is based on the fact that TCN can only transmit what is generated by Gencos and currently they are all generating below capacity,” the transmission company said in a note.
He added, “It is important to note that unless cumulative power generation increases significantly for TCN to transmit to distribution companies nationwide, TCN will have no choice but to continue. to offload.
Spokesperson for the Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria, Chijioke James, said The punch that electricity consumers across the country were unhappy with a low power supply.
“Of course, we are not satisfied. Consumers want to have a stable and reliable power supply. Some of our members have complained that their prepaid meters run out easily and we are still investigating these allegations. We haven’t seen a noticeable improvement in electricity supply across the country, and consumers aren’t happy. Many of our members, especially those in lower ranks, burn fuel and unfortunately most of the time fuel is scarce, especially in Abuja.
“We hope that the government will rethink the electricity sector and look for ways either through legislation or by reviewing the Electricity Sector Reform Act and seeing what can be done to bring about massive investments that reorganize the production, transmission and distribution of electricity across the country. Our production capacity is quite insufficient for a country with our population and our economy,” he said.
DisCos have, since last weekend, begun apologizing to their customers for the low supply. Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said that out of an allocation of 225.63 MW, 40 MW was affected by grid frequency issues.
“We constantly engage TCN to manage the allocation available to the business. We expect that if stability is maintained, supply will be shifted to areas that are currently unavailable,” he said on social media network Twitter.
Despite the low power supply, the PUNCH investigation revealed how the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission had quietly raised tariffs by N18/kWh after the Federal Government withdrew an annual N500 billion subsidy to the power sector. electricity.
A World Bank report, titled “Slowing Progress in Electricity Access: The Energy Progress Report”, ranked Nigeria in the top 20 countries with the largest “deficit access to electricity” in the world, with 92 million people unserved.
A spokesman for Sahara Group, owner of Egbin Power (Genco), declined to comment on the state of low power generation, particularly on The PUNCH’s findings on the current state of the power plant. ‘Egbin.
A counting expert and chartered accountant, Sesan Okunade, denounced the current low power supply due to low production.
According to him, the low or absence of good investments in the sector by Gencos, DisCos and TCN has resulted in the current low power supply.
“Feelers across the country and the masses, supply has been very poor due to low gas supply. The majority of GenCos are not getting gas, or they are getting low supplies.
“Additionally, the network systems of many of these DisCos are mostly cobwebs, and it’s difficult to trace faults whenever problems arise. Most of their transformers are also outdated. Most of them are between 15 and 20 years old and all they do is maintain them. We observe that even with some of these DisCos, if they attempt to power some of their transformers for 24 hours, they may explode. So the low investment in some basic infrastructure is a problem,” he said.
Industry watchers believe it may be difficult to predict when the relevant government authorities will come up with a formidable solution to the problem. However, electricity consumers continued to grumble as gas-to-electric challenges persist across the country.
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