Nigeria would continue to suffer from the prevailing electricity shortfall in the country unless drastic measures are taken to fully harness her gas potential domestically to improve power generation.
LEADERSHIP's findings reveal that while total gas requirements for existing power stations in the country is approximately 2,734 million standard cubit feet per day (mmscfd), current gas availability to the power stations is 820.2mmscfd. This translates less than 30 per cent of their gas requirement for optimal capacity utilisation.
LEADERSHIP's checks reveal that more that six months after the activation of partial power purchase agreement (PPA) in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) in the bid to boost power supply, power generation still falls below the targeted 5,500 megawatts.
Findings showed the power generated and made available on the national grid hovers around 4,000MW on average despite billions of dollars invested in the sector.
Total power generation in the country stood at 3,928.90MW by 6pm yesterday, according to data from the Nigeria Electricity System Operator.
Data from the Advisory Power Team, Office of the Vice President, show only 9 per cent of gas produced is domestically utilised for power generation in Nigeria, and that 10 per cent of gas produced in Nigeria still being flared, indicating that more gas is flared than what is used for power generation.
Commenting on these developments, general manager, Gas and Fuel, Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), Prof. Stephen Ogaji, decried that though Nigeria has a lot of capacity for increase in power generation, the huge shortage of gas to meet power plants' requirement remains a huge impediment.
According to him, re-adjusting the gas mix to allocate more gas for electricity generation is imperative to boost the nation's electricity supply.
With total installed thermal capacity in the country more than 13,000 MW, the generation companies had an available capacity of over 7.500MW, which, he said, was now dangerously dropping to 6,000MW and sometimes below.
He said the transmission system can only transmit (transport) less than 6,000MW and the distribution network is only capable of absorbing about 5,000MW
According to him, due to weak transmission and distribution system, available generation becomes rejected or forced to be reduced to match the infrastructure that transmits and distributes this power to the customer, making GenCos operate below their optimum.
As the world gravitates towards clean energy, the importance of gas in the Nigerian economy cannot be overemphasized as gas is a potent source of electricity generation that will sustain the much-needed power for national development.
Despite significant government investments, power generation, transmission and distribution are still sub-par, leading to inadequate supply. The unstable power supply in the country affects economic growth and development. It has stifled economic activities, including private investments and job creation.
Nigeria has an unenviable history of grid collapses, which is often due to insufficient gas supply to the thermal power generation plants, combined with weakened transmission and distribution infrastructures. Last year, the national electricity grid, which is managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), recorded about eight total collapses.
When the country experienced a nationwide power outage in March 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari was reported to have apologised to Nigerians and attributed it to disruption in gas supply to some of the country's thermal power plants.
Gas is a major feedstock for electricity generation in Nigeria. About 80 per cent of Nigeria's grid electricity is generated from gas-fired thermal power plants. Gas is preferred as a source of energy because of its efficiency in energy generation, relatively low per unit cost and low carbon emissions.
Nigeria, despite being a major global producer of gas and endowed with one of the largest gas reserves in the world, has struggled to deliver sufficient gas to the domestic market amid growing demand.
According to a recent Stears Business report, Nigeria currently needs about 50 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas, which includes 25bcm, for thermal electricity generation.