LONDON, Sept 19 Ghana's natural gas pipeline
will not begin pumping gas before next April, the country's
deputy energy minister said, in a further delay to a project
crucial to the country's bid to overcome an energy deficit.
Ghana is considered one of Africa's brightest economic
prospects because of its stable democracy and exports of cocoa,
oil and gold but frequent power cuts raise costs for industry
and depress consumer purchasing power.
The undersea pipeline which runs from the offshore Jubilee
field to a thermal plant near the port city of Takoradi has been
hit by funding and other delays.
"By the end of Q1 the facility should be ready. Within Q2 we
should be producing gas," Deputy Energy Minister John Jinapor
told Reuters in London on Wednesday.
The project was supposed to begin pumping this year but was
delayed until January.
A cargo vessel bringing equipment for the gas rig sank at
sea, which is one reason for the delay, and it costs the
government about $12 million per month in light crude used to
make up the gas shortfall, he said.
The pipeline is funded through a loan from the China
Development Bank and a further cause of the delay has been
holdups in disbursement of the loan with $500 million of $850
million received to date, Jinapor said.
"Contractor companies raised invoices and process them for
payments ... We had a bit of a challenge with the payment but we
are now on course. It was a procedural, a bureaucratic problem,"
Jinapor told Reuters.
President John Mahama this week named a new board for the
Electric Company of Ghana (ECG), after it came in for fierce
criticism from the World Bank and others for mismanagement that
contributes to the country's power crisis.
"We've set up a business strategic unit at ECG. We are still
in the process of restructuring it and making it more responsive
to the needs of the people," Jinapor said.
In another blow to the country's power production, a ship
last August accidentally cut the undersea West African Pipeline
Company pipe that brings gas from Nigeria causing supply
interruptions to Benin and Togo as well as to Ghana.
The pipe was fixed in July but Jinapor acknowledged supply
since then has been unreliable.
"Ultimately our vision is to have our own gas
infrastructure, but we will continue our engagement with Nigeria
to ensure they take into account their obligations on all
sides," Jinapor said.
Ghana discovered oil in 2007 and began producing three years
later with British energy firm Tullow Oil as lead
partner at the flagship Jubilee field with a 35.5 percent stake.
The company has said it will sell down its stake but Jinapor
refused to be drawn on whether the Ghana National Petroleum
Corporation would seek to increase its holding which currently
stands at 13.6 percent.
Other stakeholders include investment group Kosmos,
Anadarko Petroleum Sabre/PetroSA.
"The maximum Jubilee should produce is about 120,000 barrels
per day ... Currently we are doing about 110,000 barrels. Very
soon we should be able to get up to capacity. By the middle of
next year," Jinapor said.