A ranking minister during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan’s has cited sabotage by gas producers as the major reason for the government’s failing in delivering on its promised stable electricity supply.
The Minister who was in charge of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, at the weekend disclosed that Nigeria indeed produced what may be regarded as sufficient gas but that the chunk of it was being exported abroad. This was grossly insufficient to meet the power generation target of 5000 megawatts (MW) of electricity in 2014, the minister said.
“It is very painful. I blame a lot on vandalism, but I also blame the oil companies for what I consider to be hypocrisy. They have been hypocritical with this whole issue of making sure that we have gas and bringing us out of darkness and so on,” Nebo lamented
Mr. Nebo explained that five billion standard cubic feets (bscf) of gas per day was being produced but producers preferred to export about four billion standard cubic feet of that and dedicate one billion standard cubic feet for the domestic market, out of which over 60 per cent of it are mostly channeled to industrial users.
“I think that it is scandalous that we produce over 5bscfs of gas every day and we sell 4bscfs and retain only 1bscfs for local use. And that the one for local use is preferentially given to industries and not to power, starving the power sector of the needed gas to industrialise this country and I think that is a shame.”
According to him, gas producers often cited legacy debts owed to them by defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) as their reason for not providing the needed amount of gas to the government for power generation.
However, Mr. Nebo contended that in spite of the the joint intervention of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in which price and transportation of gas to power were reviewed to $2.80 and CBN commitment to offset the legacy debt, the gas producers failed to leave up to their own side of bargain.
“I hate excuses. But I would say that commitments were made to give us gas, but we haven’t seen gas. It is just as simple as that.” he added.