‘Natural gas is key to addressing Ghana’s energy needs’

Accra, The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has urged the Government to use natural gas in addressing the mounting energy needs of the country.

Dr Kofi Koduah Sarpong, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GNPC, said natural gas for power production was the right decision that government could take to ensure cheap supply of electricity for the nation.

He said the Corporation would continue to explore the natural gas resources of the country to ensure sustainable energy supply.

Dr Sarpong made the appeal on Monday during a panel discussion at the 2017 Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) in Accra, organised by the Business and Financial Times with Barclays Bank as the lead sponsor.

The two-day Forum, on the theme: Building a Ghanaian Owned Economy, 60 Years after Independence, brought together over 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 GEF include macroeconomic 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 interrelated social and demographic changes creating new domestic engines of growth.

Dr Sarpong said: 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 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.

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 but we do have, may be 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 rates 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.

He said the high cost of electricity arose from the kind of fuel used in power generation, and that the alternative was to use natural gas.

He Ghana did not have too many opportunities for hydro energy production and, therefore, had to depend on thermal energy.

Speaking on the topic: Making the most productive use of energy resources in Ghana’s developmental agenda, Dr Sarpong said the high debts of the energy institutions, such as the Volta River Authority, GRIDCO and Electricity Company of Ghana, were major constraints.

He said high overhead debts, high interest rates and high cost of production would all go a long way to affect tariff cost in the country.

He therefore, advocated for the use of natural gas to address the nation’s electricity generation needs.

Dr Ben K. B. Asante, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana National Gas, said fuel really was the first gate for the thermal generation value chain and gas was the fuel of choice.

Dr Alfred Kwabena Ofosu-Ahenkorah, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Energy Commission, said for development to take place in the country energy must be available, reliable, affordable and sustainable.

Mr Ishmael Edjekumhene, the Executive Director, Kumasi Institute of Technology and Environment, called for the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act and the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund.

Ms Harriet Ammisah Arthur, partner, Arthur Energy Advisors, urged government to put in place a strategy to address the debts of the energy sector.

Madam Eunice Biritwum, the CEO of Cent Energy Limited, said Ghana needed adequate power supply to develop as a lower middle income country; adding that the right environment was needed to facilitate the growth of the energy sector.

Source: Ghana News Agency