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Governor Attah's Power Calculations (Posted 27th Oct, 2001) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Governor Attah with others in front of the Gas TurbineIt was Victor Attah's finest moment so far. The moment when the first turbine for the proposed Ibom Power Plant arrived his state. Trust Attah to make political capital out of the event. In the morning, Monday, October 8, the 40 foot long low bed trailer bearing the two-storey high gas turbine for the power plant was slowly driven into the newly cleared site of the Ibom Power Plant at Ikot Abasi, about 150 kilometers off Uyo, the state capital. Attah's arrival at the project site had been timed to coincide with that of the gas turbine that is expected to end the state's power problems. All smiles, Victor Attah, proudly led a number of invited dignitaries that included Senator Udo Udoma, who represents the state and Peter Lyn, President of LYK Engineering incorporated of California, US. Others in attendance were a handful of state commissioners and traditional chiefs, especially those from nearby Ikot Abasi community.

An obviously elated Attah told the gathering that his government was not only committed to the speedy completion of the power project but "committed to embarking on projects that would provide a bulwark for industrial activities in the state." His mood suddenly becoming sombre, governor Attah admonished: "we should not rest on our oars." He also asked LYK Engineering, which he called "our partners" to also work tirelessly "with us (the state government) to make sure the project is delivered on schedule." He appealed to NEPA and the Federal Ministry of Power and Steel "to de-bottleneck any problem that could stand against the speedy realisation of the project." The $100 million Ibom Power Project has been planned in three phases. 

The first, which drew the governor and his audience to Ikot Abasi, will provide 60 megawatts of electricity to the state by December. This would fill the huge power shortfall in a state that is almost always in a blackout. According to the state government the state gets less than 5 megawatts of power, a far cry from its power requirements of 40 megawatts per day. Little surprise that the state remains in perpetual blackout, while its economy remains comatose.

Further, this scenario leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of most residents of the state, especially in the state capital, Uyo, which is fast growing into a cosmopolitan area. For an oil producing state, this has further deepened feelings of neglect from both the state government and the Obasanjo administration at the federal level. More so, the economic stagnation of the state, which can, perhaps, not be divorced from the lack of basic infrastructure especially good roads and of course, power has hardened the widespread feelings of neglect into apathy to the state government. 

The Governor reading his addressIt was perhaps to dispel such doubts about his administration's commitment to the power project that Attah was personally on hand, as it were, to "receive" the newly arrived turbine. And also invited the press far and wide to witness the event.

"Are they serious?" asks E. Edet, a chartered accountant and indigene of the state who leaves in Uyo, with a chuckle. He then adds: "If they are serious, it would be a good thing because we have really suffered terribly from blackouts in this state." That is the hope. But governor Attah himself appears conscious of this burden of expectation from his hard pressed people, which now rest on his shoulders.

Andy Inyang, director-general of the Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Development Council, AKIIPOC, stated that what underpinned the idea to embark on the power project, was the decision to establish a refinery by the state government. "We are looking at a project that would be captive, that would stand to provide linkages to other projects," he said. Part of the plan, undertaken by AKIIPOC, is that the power plant will serve the power requirements of the proposed 100,000 barrels per day refinery. But that refinery, which is still on the drawing board, would not require power for the next two years. But the power project is forging ahead, seemingly propelled by the desire of most Akwa Ibomites, for adequate power supply. Inyang says from the outset the state government through AKIIPOC had quickly paid up its equity contribution of $3 million representing its 15 per cent stake in order to ensure there is no set back to the project. Project partners, LYK Engineering, is contributing $17 million representing its 85 per cent equity stake. Right now, adds Inyang, $40 million is on the ground for the project. The rest would come from various lenders, among which are Afro Exim Bank, based in Cairo and local banks such as UBA, First Bank. Gulf Bank is the lead syndicate bank for the project.

Gareth Wilcox, managing director of LYK Engineering and also managing director of Ibom Power Plant says he has no doubts that the project would deliver at least 60 MWS to the state by December. Gareth Wilcox, Managing Director, LYK Engineering, at the ceremony A second gas turbine is expected to arrive from partners China Petroleum Company in Nanjig, China by the end of the month, while a third turbine is scheduled to arrive the country by the end of next month, November.  In addition, about $15 - 20 million would be spent by the partners to put in place transmission lines that would help get the power so generated to consumers in Uyo the capital, and Eket, which hosts a large Mobil producing oil facility. 

Right now, the management of the power plant are negotiating a power purchase agreement with the national power utility, NEPA, which owns and runs the national power grid that takes power round the country. Attah says his government would set up a state electricity board that would take charge of distributing the power generated. If Attah can help it he would like to bypass NEPA. But, whichever way he does it, all the average Uyo resident wants is a permanent end to the blackouts that have scarred his economic and social well been for so long.

Editor's Note: NEPA is now called Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN from 2005.

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