General News of Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Economist Kwame Pianim has said 2015 will be a “difficult” year for Ghana as far as energy production is concerned.
“The year 2015 is going to be a difficult year for Ghana as we seem to be in one of the bad energy cycle years where we run a high risk of low level water in our dam because Ghana is largely driven by hydroelectricity – about 1000 Megawatts – and when the level of the [Volta] Lake gets very low as the probability is, we may lose probably 70% of that, which means that we need to get more expensive energy to fuel our economic growth and export diversification,” Pianim said at the 3rd edition of the Ghana economic outlook and business strategy conference of 2015 held in Accra.
It was on theme: “Diversifying Ghana’s economy through sustained export trade.”
Speaking on behalf of Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur at the opening ceremony, the main opposition New Patriotic Party founder-member said the anticipated worsening of the current energy crisis will make Ghana “become increasing dependent on fossil fuel-driven thermal generation, which may further deepen our energy outages with its destructive effects on economic activity and growth.”
He nonetheless observed that the situation presents an investment opportunity to foreigners who may want to venture into Ghana’s energy sector. “…Of course for investors, this represents an opportunity,” he said.
The energy shortfall was a prominent feature throughout last year. President Mahama on Tuesday told Ghanaians in Germany that his Government is working towards resolving the problem.
The current irregular power supply is having a toll on Industry and domestic consumers, who have had to contend with a load management schedule due to a 500-Megawatt production deficit.
Explaining the reason for the deficit to Ghanaians in Germany, the President said a number of factors have conspired to plunge the nation into the current crisis, known locally as ‘dumsor’.
Firstly, he said the irregular gas supply from the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGPco) has played a major role since “You can’t plan with the gas from the West Africa Gas Pipeline” in Nigeria.
According to the President, a number of production plants that rely on gas were constructed in the Tema enclave to be powered by gas from WAGPco, but the unreliability of gas from Nigeria has compelled the country to shut down those plants.
“…We were assured to get 120 million standard cubic feet of gas so we built several plants in the Tema enclave that run only on gas,” but regretted that “WAGPco has not been as reliable as we had hope so we cannot even plan.”
He also said increase in demand as a result of an increase in population has also compounded the problem, while the Akosombo Dam, which produces about 37 percent of the nation’s entire energy need is also running only four units. The other two units have been shut down due to low water level in the Volta lake – a consequence of poor rainfall.
As part of measures toward resolving the deficit, the President said plans are afoot to produce between 300 and 350 million standard cubic feet of gas to feed the various production plants that rely on gas.
He said while Ghana can get 150 million standard cubic feet of gas from the Jubilee oil field in the Western region, the TEN field, which he said will come on stream in 2016, will provide between 50 and 80 million standard cubic feet of gas with an additional 150 to 180 million standard cubic feet of gas expected from the ENI Sankafo field, of which the contract will be signed on January 27 2015.
Mr Mahama said all these measures are aimed at ensuring energy security for the country.