Danger, encroachers threaten WAPCo’s gas pipeline

April 27, 2017
Source: Patrick PAINTSIL/thebftonline.com/Ghana
Danger, encroachers threaten WAPCo’s gas pipeline

Activities of encroachers along the Ghana section of the 678-kilometer West African Gas Pipeline in Tema threaten the security of the installation, as well as the generation and supply of electricity.

Human lives and property could also be lost any time an explosion results from activities like the burning of refuse, sand winning and use of dynamites and other explosives close to the pipeline.

The West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCo), the entity which owns and operates the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), has said the situation is so perilous that it is liaising with the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, the Ghana National Fire Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ghana Police Service to demolish structures within the pipeline’s Right of Way (RoW).

Deputy External Relations Manager of WAPCo, William Osei-Owusu, told the B&FT on the sidelines of a tour of the company’s facilities, that: “This is a hazardous range. We have had discussions with the encroachers and some of them have rescinded their decision. We are using all manner of approaches to get people away from the station. We don’t want to antagonise our stakeholder community and we are looking forward to a permanent solution.”

He added that: “WAPCo is therefore counting on city authorities in the Tema Metropolis to create alternative route to prevent residents from using the pipeline’s right of way (RoW) as a thoroughfare and to facilitate or supervise the pulling down of structures extruding into the right of way of the pipeline.”

The pipeline, which begins from Escravos in Nigeria, carries gas to Benin, Togo and Ghana, with an expected peak over time capacity of 460MMscfd. 

Ghana, contractually, is expected to receive 120mscf of gas per day via the pipeline which extends from Teman to Takoradi. Lack of the required has, however, meant that the stretch between Tema and Takoradi is underutilised.

Given that indigenous gas is inadequate to meet the current gas demand of about 400mscf, the supply of gas from Nigeria via the pipeline, is critical to the sustainable generation of power; any damage to the pipeline will cost the country millions in imported crude oil as a substitute to natural gas.

Damage to a section of the pipeline in Togolese waters in 2012 compelled the VRA, the largest power producer, to switch to “extremely expensive alternative fuel,” which made it tougher for it to pay its outstanding gas bills. 

External Relations Manager for WAPCo, Mark Mensah, indicated that any damage to the pipeline will not only affect Ghanaians but also other countries along the pipeline corridor, specifically Benin and Togo.

“We need to do everything to protect the pipeline; residents of the area should consider their safety. If the unfortunate should occur, the damage will be irreversible and we expect the laws to work. Authorities have a role to play in securing the place.”

WAPCo is a joint venture between public and private sector companies from Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana. The company's main mandate is to transport natural gas from Nigeria to customers in Benin, Togo and Ghana in a safe, responsible and reliable manner, at prices competitive with other fuel alternatives.

WAPCo is owned by Chevron West African Gas Pipeline Ltd (36.9%); Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (24.9%); Shell Overseas Holdings Limited (17.9%); and Takoradi Power Company Limited (16.3%), Societe Togolaise de Gaz (2%) and Societe BenGaz S.A. (2%).