Gas Pipeline Fire Causes Blackouts In Nigeria

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By Zainab Calcuttawala, Oilprice.com

A gas pipeline fire has caused parts of Nigeria’s electric grid to shut down, according to an announcement by the ministry of power on Wednesday.

The incident at the Escravos Lagos Pipeline caused power cuts at several stations near the major southern city of Edo, an official statement read.

“The sudden loss of generation due to interruption in gas supply from these stations caused the national transmission grid to trip off around 20:20 on 2nd January,” it said.

The affected areas are accustomed to bouts of blackouts, so the unique cause of these power interruptions went unnoticed by local residents and business owners, Reuters reported.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it will restore the gas pipelines soon, but the process of extinguishing the fire “might lead to a complete shutdown of the pipeline segment,” which leads to the states of Lagos, Ondo, and Ogun.

“Once the national grid is restored, output from the hydroelectric power stations and all other unaffected gas-fired thermal power stations will be increased to the extent possible to minimize the impact of loss of generation from the affected power stations,” the power ministry added.

Only one in four Nigerian households have access to the grid, and only for a few hours a day, data from early 2017 shows. Nigerians who can afford generators spend an estimated $0.40/kWh- 0.75/kWh, one of the main expenses of the average household. The poor condition of the power grid is the result of many years without investments in infrastructure, a poor maintenance record for the existing facilities, and rampant corruption. Experts argue that reliable grid power could boost Nigeria’s GDP by 14 percent.

Last March, the NNPC announced a $15 billion investment to build thermal power plants with a capacity of 4,000 megawatts (MW) across the country over the next 10 years. Three of the power plants will be built in the major centers of Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano.

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