ACCRA, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) chief executive officer (CEO) Kofi Koduah Sarpong has urged the government to use natural gas in addressing the mounting energy needs of the country as it can help ensure a supply of cheap electricity for the nation.

He stressed that the corporation would continue to explore Ghana’s natural gas resources to ensure a sustainable energy supply during a panel discussion at the 2017 Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) here Monday. The two-day forum, on the theme: Building a Ghanaian-Owned Economy, 60 Years after Independence, brought together some 500 local and international business leaders to dialogue and chart a clear path for Ghanaian businesses to own the Ghanaian economy.

Strategic issues discussed at the forum included macro-economic trends affecting the global economy; the attributes that have allowed emerging market companies to play an increasing role on the international stage; the rise of the Ghanaian urban consumer; and the inter-related social and demographic changes creating new domestic engines of growth.

The cost of production of power is the key issue. Presently we say the cost of production is very high. But then government has signed so many power purchasing agreements (PPAs) to the extent that the totality of capacity is far in excess of demand. But because the price is high, for you to do so, nobody will buy it, said Sarpong.

For that reason we cannot even look at the export market; because in the sub-region we are looking at an average of 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) but we have, maybe the composite average. in Ghana being more than 15 cents, because some agreements have got tariff rates of up to about 18 cents.

If that is the case, then you can have an installed capacity, but it won’t make economic sense to produce. And for industry, you notice that if you are producing at that high tariff rate they cannot purchase it.

So to me you can even have an installed capacity but you won’t have available power because there is no available market for it or those who buy eventually you kill their businesses.

The high cost of electricity arose from the kind of fuel used in power generation, and that the alternative was to use natural gas, said Sarpong, who noted that Ghana did not have many opportunities for hydro-energy production and, therefore, had to depend on thermal energy.