Mr Babatunde Fashola Minister of Power Works and-Housing

Given the availability of sufficient gas to power it, the Afam Thermal Power Plant in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, will before December this year, deliver 340 Megawatts of electricity to the National Grid towards the consolidation of the Federal Government’s drive to achieve Incremental Power for the country.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, who disclosed this in Afam in the Oyigbo Local Government Area of the State at the weekend, said with the work on the 240MW capacity Afam III Plant at advanced stages and the burnt transformer for the 100MW Afam 1V now repaired, the two should deliver a combined 340MW energy to the grid before the end of the year subject to the availability of sufficient gas to fire them.

Interacting with newsmen after inspecting the Power Station, Fashola, who said all of the turbines and equipment needed for the completion of Afam III were already in the country, added that the only problems left included the provision of access roads and logistics while the burnt transformer that would evacuate the 100MW from Afam 1V had been repaired and in good condition with the turbine.

The Minister, who noted that government has been working at the Plants in the past 17 to 18 months to restore the place back to its optimum capacity, expressed delight at the progress of work assuring that before the end of the year, 340MW would be added to the National Grid from the facility. “That is part of our Incremental Power Initiative”, he said.

“What we have behind us is the Afam III and that is the Fast Power programme in collaboration with General Electric to restore 240MW to that place. All of the turbines and equipment needed for that project is already in Nigeria. So the only challenge we have now is roads, logistics and a few other problems; those are the things I have come to assess here. Afam IV is the only surviving generation unit,” he said.

Fashola, who said the surviving generation units 17 and 18 have a combined output of 100MW, added, however, that the power could not be evacuated due to the damaged transformer which, according to him, got burnt in January 2015.

“That was what was handed over to the Buhari government. So we have worked, we have restored and we have replaced the transformer and it is ready to go”, the Minister said adding, “We are here to assess the progress of the work that we have been doing here in the past 17 to 18 months to get this place back to its optimum capacity. But we now have issues with gas.”

On the steps taken by government to solve the gas issue, the Minister, who said that the Buhari government inherited a lot of debts owed to all the gas companies, who, according to him, said they would no longer supply gas without payment, recalling that government recently approved N701 billion under its Payment Assurance programme to ensure that henceforth all suppliers of gas to the nation’s power plants were paid.

He disclosed, “So we are telling Shell to let us separate the previous debt and create a programme to deal with it under the Central Bank of Nigeria programme”, adding, “And now that we have a Payment Assurance programme, we are assuring them that every gas they supply to this place now will be paid for”.

“We have already paid for power produced in January; we have got approval to pay for power produced in February because the bills come in arrears. So they are looking at that and they will come back to us; so hopefully we should add another 100MW to the grid from here (Afam 1V) very soon.”

For Afam V, which, he said, was the last one to be built, Fashola said the plant could not be maintained for four to five years after it was built resulting in so many things being damaged inside it adding that Government was now trying to get it into procurement and fix that.

Assuring that the project would be completed next year, the Minister added, “I think they both have 276MW combined; that is a lot of power again to the grid and that will happen over the next 12 to 15 or 16 months if we can start quickly”, pointing out that he was at the site to assess progress of work in order to deliver the project as soon as possible.