The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, said on Friday that the Federal government had the capacity to deliver 5,500 megawatts of electricity to Nigerians regularly if there was adequate gas supply.
Nebo said this when he fielded questions from State House correspondents after the meeting of the Board of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) in Abuja.
According to him, the benefits of the power projects were denied the citizens by the activities of pipeline vandals
“With regard to our generation today, I would like to make a differentiation between installed capacity and available capacity.
“Because of the projects that have commissioned, we have a capacity now to deliver minimum of 5,500mw with gas because when I talk about availability, we are also talking about gas.
“The problem today is still vandalism. Whether it is the Eastern or Western axis, we keep suffering vandalism and it happened almost predictably every two weeks.
“Once they hit the Western axis, the Excravos – Lagos pipeline, the only reason they hit it is apparently for sabotage because you can’t collect the gas, you can’t sell the gas or store the gas.
“Only gas flows through these pipelines.
“Anybody who is doing that is only trying to sabotage the effort of the government and to make sure that Nigerians are kept in darkness.’’
According to the minister, when vandals “hit the trans-Forcados pipeline and so on they steal oil but because of the associated gas and the oil as the condensate gets built up and the condensate tanks are full, you have to also shut down the gas lines.
“At a time we had to lose 1,600mw of power supply to Nigerians because of vandalism. This is so painful.’’
He said that in spite of the regular vandalism which occurred every two weeks, “ the most painful aspect of it is that between 24 and 36 , latest 48 hours of repair, they go to another place and vandalise.
“In other words we are in a constant maintenance exercise, constant repair exercise,’’ Nebo said.
The minister said that it got to the point where four massive vandalism took place between February and March.
He said consequently, the government had to test the reliability of the entire system to be sure that it was still strong enough technically to handle gas flow.
Nebo said the losses were at huge costs to the government every month.
“And it costs the gas transport company a minimum of N120 million every month to repair these vandalised gas pipelines.
`You are talking about N1.5 billion every year minimum, just to repair the vandalised pipelines.
“There is no reason why they should be vandalised.
“So, when you see a situation where we can give Nigerians 5,500mw of power if we have the gas and our own compatriots have refused to allow that to happen, you now see the frustration that all of us go through.’’
The minister called for a lot of security measures to effectively protect the pipelines.
“We synergise with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, with the office of the National Security Adviser, with the army with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“We are working together but I think a lot more need to go into place and there has to be a digitised mechanism of surveillance so that the entire length and breadth of the oil and gas pipelines are under constant surveillance system in a digitised format.
“That is the only way we are going to find out what is happening at any moment, be able to locate exactly where the vandalism is taking place and even possibly to forewarn those who are trying to do that to know that they are being observed.
“Availability wise, I think no administration has done as well as this administration.
“We have actually taken Nigeria to a different level but unfortunately the saboteurs have refused that Nigerians should share the benefits. That is where we are today.’’
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