Boakye Agyarko The answer to dumsor ?

January 12, 2017
Source: Dominic Andoh |thebftonline |Ghana
Boakye Agyarko The answer to dumsor ?

President Akufo-Addo’s decision to consolidate the Power and Petroleum Ministries into just one Ministry—Energy, portends an era of holistic planning to address the country’s power challenges.

Half a decade of erratic power supply has led to the collapse of many an industry. At the height of the power rationing regime, basic school pupils could be seen sprawled in front of closed shops with outer lights in major towns trying to complete their take-home assignments

The power crisis, indeed, struck the core of the Ghanaian society; everyone felt the dark itchy hands of darkness.

The decision by the erstwhile Mahama-led administration to separate the Petroleum and Power Ministries and appoint two ministers to manage same, created a disconnect between power production and the supply of fuel for power generation.

Mr. Boakye Agyarko, an experienced investment banker and someone with a deep understanding of energy sector financing, is President Akufo-Addo’s Energy Minister designate.

If his nomination is approved by Parliament, Mr. Agyarko has his job cut-out--making sure that the power crisis does not occur again. He would have the latitude of leading the development of a comprehensive plan to address the myriad challenges facing the sector.

Kweku Andoh Awotwi, Principal, African Power Systems Management, believes that the ad hoc approaches to solving Ghana’s energy crisis have yielded very little results.

“There is an incoherent approach in addressing the problems in the power sector. We need a much more coherent approach. Ninety percent of the said projects will not see the light of day. We don't plan the approach, and we need to do that. Adhoc approaches will not work, we have to be deliberate,” he noted. 

Indeed, the major and foremost challenge Mr Agyarko faces is to ensure the availability of adequate fuel to power the country’s installed power plants.   

The unreliable and cheap power supply experienced over the past half-decade, has never been the absence of installed capacity but the non-availability of fuel for power generation.

The largest public power producer, the Volta River Authority (VRA) alone, has an installed capacity—hydro and thermal--of about 2,434MW; enough to meet the current demand of 2,225MW.

Financing challenges with retooling some of the old installations and the lack of fuel have been the main drawbacks.

Current electricity demand for the country stands at about 2,225MW. This is growing by 10 percent per annum and is expected to hit 7,000MW by 2030.

Presently, VRA and other Independent Power Producers (IPPs) together have an installed capacity of 3,644MW.

However, constraints on fuel sources for power generation -- crude oil, gas and water for hydro power generation -- have necessitated the need for exploring cost-effective, reliable, and clean energy and power sources.

Given the current gas demand of about 450Mscf per day, indigenous gas and limited supply from the West Africa Gas Pipeline are unable to meet demand. Available indigenous gas is also expected to run out by 2036, according to energy experts.

The country does not have enough indigenous gas to fuel power plants sited in the Western Region, and will have to augment gas supplied with crude, following the delivery of the AMERI power plant.

The Jubilee Oilfield produces about 100,000 barrels of oil per day. The field also crucially produces about 120million standard cubic feet of gas per day (mscf/day) to power thermal plants within the Aboadzi power enclave.

NGas, made up of Chevron, Shell and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), is also contracted to supply 120mscf of gas per day via the West African Gas Pipeline. However, supply of the commodity has been below the contractual volume, amid issues of debts owed the suppliers.

This, however, is not enough to cater for the estimated total gas demand of about 350mscf/day needed to generate enough thermal energy to meet the daily 2,200megawatts of electricity demanded at peak.

Gas exported on-shore from the Jubilee Field and processed by the Ghana Gas Company Limited for onward delivery to VRA and other Independent Power Generators in Takoradi represents a crucial source of cheap fuel for the generation of power. At full throttle it supplies about 120million standard cubic feet of gas.

Additional gas is expected to be generated from the TEN project. The project derives its name from the three fields -- Tweneboa, Enyera and Ntomme -- and has a current scope to develop 300million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) over the lifetime of the field, which is approximately 20 years. Around 80% of this is oil and 20% gas.

When this comes on-stream, it will help address the fuel shortage situation facing the country.

Announcing his nomination, President Akufo-Addo extoled Mr. Boakye Agyarko track record on brokering deals in the energy sector across the world. Indeed, given that finance is a major headache of Ghana’s power sector, he seems primed for the role.

Having spent more than two decades working with the Bank of New York, where he rose to the position of Vice President and Head of Global Network Management for the Americans in the Investment Management and Services Division, a lot is expected of the Energy Minister designate.

Ghanaians do not want to live under power rationing, otherwise known as ‘Dumsor’ where they would be forced to navigate dark rooms in their minds eye.