Ibom Power Plant; The Truth, The Fallacy
By Charles Etimette
What is today known and called as Ibom Power Plant, IPP came through the initiative which started in 2011 when the Ibom Power Company was formed by the former Governor Obong Victor Attah. It was formed as a Private Liability Company owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government. As it is known about all such companies, the Ibom Power Company Limited is run by a board of directors led by a chairman, while day to day management of the company in vested on a managing director.
The company was licensed by the federal government for the sole purpose of generating power. The power so generated is therefore sold to a buyer for the purpose of transmitting and distributing same to the final consumers.
In this case, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) becomes the buyer and distributors, while the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) takes charge of transmitting the electricity power to the Nigerian public.
When the Obong Victor Attah administration ended its tenure on May 29, 2007 the Ibom Power Plant project war said to have stood at a low per cent of work done. But the administration of Obong Godswill Akpabio, considering the importance of the Power Plant to the project of making Akwa Ibom State a destination decided to generously invest in it.
The project was not only inherited by the Akpabio administration but also was dutifully guided to the effect that about two years later in December 2009 the plant commenced generation and evacuation of power to its sole client, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Findings early in the month revealed that since December 2009 the Ibom Power had remained fully operational generating and evacuating up to 60 MW of power to its sole customer the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
The overall generating capacity of the plant from the three installed generators stands at 190 MW through. But the company, technically by the existing transmission and distribution facilities of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)……Therefore, as the Power Plant today evacuates only 60 MW at power to the national grid comes as a worrisome constraint which it has no control over the company by the articles of its license is prohibited from transmission and distribution of the power it generates.
Available information indicates generated power from the Ibom Power Plant flows through the 132 KV transmission line from Ikot Abasi through the sub-stations at Eket, Uyo and Itu before the line exists Akwa Ibom through to the national grid.
But the Ibom Power Plant, like all other power plants in the country, is constrained by some factors that are beyond its powers. As has been known, the PHCN and TCN, whether by acts of omission or commission, and official redtapism are limited from working in line towards transforming the benefits of the initiative to build power plants by some state governments. This effort which is a way of ensuring effective power supply in the country seems to be delayed largely by outside the plants themselves.
For instance, in the case of Ibom Power Plant, while the line can carry up 200MW, the transmission line from Eket to Uyo and from Uyo and from Uyo to Itu can only carry about 60 MW of power. In effect, it means at the current level, only one third of the power generated from the plant can be evacuated.
Meanwhile, Ibom Plant is known to have required the PHNC since 2004 to upgrade its facilities for effective evacuation of power from the plant. Of course this delay is said to have accordingly limited the plant’s generating out put to only what its sole customer can evacuate.
From the PHCN and TCN it was however learnt over the week that the ‘upgrade’ of the transmission line was underway and would be ready by the third quarter of the year. The current situation, from the angle of the PHNC puts efforts of ensuring steady power supply in Akwa Ibom on the head, such that though the plant currently generates and sell power to the PHCN it does not have any control or say in where or how the power so generated is distributed. (see box)
Above informs why, when recently media reports had it that the Ibom Power Plant has been shut down due to non-maintenance, except for Governor Godswill Akpabio’s turbine many concerned and well meaning indigenes of the state ready viewed the reports as a conspiracy.
By all intent, it was a conspiracy inimically orchestrated to cause distraction and needless public stench. But it failed to convince even the most gullible. For whatever the intention was, the conspirator might want to term it a confiscation of their freedom of expression if it is said here that the reports lacked all elements of fairness and investigative reportage.
But it be noted however that any, society that is in the habit of attributing all perceived ugly situation to its leadership runs the risk of living in perpetual ignorance.
Few issues in that reports for instance are begging further reasoning: the reports had claimed that the plant has shut down except Godswill Akpabio’s turbine. The first questions is, what is the position and turbine owner profile of Godswill Akpabio in a project with national interest?
Another question is, if the plant has been shut down as claimed, which one is the managing director running as a personal estate?
Could it be the same Akpabio’s turbine? One would think that there has to a functional plant before the MD, Gareth Wilcox could run as a personal estate.
One is not arguing as though the Ibom Power Plant, like its counterparts in other states, does not have other constraints apart from power evacuation. Gas supply has posed another monumental problem to Independent Power Plants across the country.
A recent press release by the company said there were two constraints preventing it from generating and evacuating the full phase I capacity of 190MW. It said first “is the ability to evacuate.” Which it say is anticipated will no longer be a constraint in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The second constraint, the release has said “is Gas.” It said the company has signed a gas agreement with the Nigerian Gas Company, but regretted however that the agreement was on a “best endeavours basis, i.e if we have gas, then you can have it” this arrangement was considered not to have been acceptable for the power purchase agreement of the company.
The company said it was so, so that it could guarantee the supply of power to its customer. It has therefore entered into an agreement with Septa Energy to provide gas from fields within Akwa Ibom State. At the moment Septa Energy’s development work is said to have been completed; and the Ibom Power Plant says it is anticipating the commission of that facility to be completed in the third quarter of 2012.
The removal of above constraints, the company has assured, will enable its ability to evacuate its full 190MW capacity. It could therefore be safely concluded that with above efforts, coupled with the enormous amount the Akpabio administration has invested on the project, letting the plant die in unthinkable.
This is because Ibom Power Plant and the evacuation of the power its generates are strategies to the overall success of the industrialization programme of the present administration and initiators of campaign of calumny know it so well. But rather than continue to wish for its death, it would be advised they join the well-meaning citizens of this country to prevail on the PHCN and TCN, nay the federal government to expedite on their side in order to enabling Nigerians tap the full benefits of Independent Power Plants initiative.
Our Limitations – Gareth Wilcox
Ibom Power Company was formed in 2001. It is a private limited liability company. The company is owned by the Akwa Ibom State government and is run by a board of directors led by a chairman. Day-to-day management of the company is headed by a managing director and is in accordance with policies approved by and authorizations of the board.
The Objectives And Functions of the Company
Our company is licensed to GENERATE electricity. It is NOT licensed to transmit, or distribute electricity. Furthermore, it is forbidden, with the exception of a possible minor investment, to have any involvement with transmission or distribution companies, this was one of the cornerstone policies of the power sector reform bill which aims to ensure that each part of the power chain has a well-defined accountable role.
As part of our corporate responsibility, we aim to develop our staff and the people of the state by educational and skill training and assistance in enterprise development.
After completing the process for the issuance of an environmental certificate in 2007, the company continually maintains the license and undertakes the obligations imposed by that license.
The company has a power purchase agreement with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria and a Federal Government Guarantee.
The company has a land lease agreement with AKIIPOC, the investment arm of the Akwa Ibom State government.
The company has installed two GE Frame 6B and one Frame 9E turbine generators. Their combined optimum output under the climatic conditions in Ikot Abasi is 191MW.
The plant also has ancillary systems for compressed air, DC, power, raw water, potable water, drainage and effluent.
Funding for the development of phase I of the power plant was primarily from the Akwa Ibom State Government. The balance funding from long term bank loans have now been subsumed by the state government.
Since early 2009 we have operated financially solely through income from the sale of power.
We have generated over 700,000 MWh to the national grid since we started in December 2009 and peaked at over 48,000 MWh (68MW average) for the month of December 2011.
Our constraint in the transmission system which can only allow us to evacuate a maximum of 70MW whereas we should be evacuating an optimum average of 173MW. Due to the transmission constraint, and to avoid penalties, we have only signed a gas agreement for the gas required for 70MW. When the transmission line constraint is removed further gas will be required.
Phase I power is evacuated at 132KV through substations at Eket, Uto and Itu after which it exists the state to either Calabar or Aba.
· The line from Eket through Uyo to Itu can only carry 50-60MW.
· The upgrade of the line from Eket through Uyo to Itu has been under development since 2004. It was taken over by the NIPP projects and it is expected that this work will be completed this year. Ibom Power will then be able to evacuate most of its available power.
· The distribution system is in a very poor sate. Faults in the distribution system cause continuous trips to our generators. This increase maintenance costs and reduces operational efficiency.
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