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Blackout as electricity grid collapses twice in 16 hours

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Within a space of about 16 hours, the country’s electricity grid collapsed twice, leaving many parts of the country in total blackout.

It was learnt that the first collapse of the power transmission grid occurred on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at about 10.20pm, while the second happened at 2.19pm on Wednesday.

Senior officials of the Transmission Company of Nigeria told our correspondent that the first collapse contributed largely to the second shutdown, as the country lost about 3,000 megawatts of electricity due to the incidents.

The first grid collapse was due to a fire incident on the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System of the Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company Limited.

It was gathered that the fire outbreak on the ELP, a natural gas pipeline that supplies gas from the Escravos region of the Niger Delta area to Lagos, would affect the supply of gas to three states in the South-West.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, gas supply to Lagos, Ogun and Ondo states will be affected as a result of the fire outbreak on the ELP.

The fire incident resulted in the shutdown of the pipeline that supplies gas to six thermal power plants, and prompted the collapse of the country’s electricity grid at 10:20pm on Tuesday.

This was confirmed by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in a statement issued around 12:44am on Wednesday.

The ministry said it was regrettable that after a sustained period of increasing production and distribution of power since September 2017 to date, the Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company reported a fire incident on its Escravos Lagos Pipeline System near Okada, Edo State on Tuesday, January 2, 2018.

It said, “The incident requires a shutdown of the pipeline supplying gas to Egbin, 1,320 megawatts; Olorunsogo NIPP, 676MW; Olorunsogo, 338MW; Omotosho NIPP, 450MW; Omotosho, 338MW; and Paras, 60MW, power stations.

“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 of January, 2018. The national transmission grid is owned and operated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria.”

Most of Nigeria’s power generation is from thermal power stations that require gas for fuel.

The gas is produced by oil and gas companies overseen by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and is delivered to the power stations through pipelines owned and operated by the NGPTC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The FMPWH, however, stated that the TCN and the generation companies were working to restore operation of the national grid.

“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 minimise the impact of loss of generation from the affected power stations, while the NNPC takes necessary steps to restore gas supply,” it added.

It said the national power grid collapse would be temporary, describing it as a setback.

“We urge members of the public to bear with us as we work to overcome this setback, which should be temporary,” the ministry noted.

According to the TCN, the second grid collapse occurred at about 14.19hours (2.19pm) on January 3, 2018.

It said information from the National Control Centre, Osogbo, indicated that the tripping of the Odukpani-Ikot Ekpene 330kV line cut off generation from the Odukpani Power Station to the grid.

The General Manager, Public Affairs, TCN, Ndidi Mbah, told our correspondent that restoration of the grid had reached an advanced stage, as the company had also commenced investigations to determine the exact cause of the system disturbance.

“The system disturbance happened at a time when work on the Western Gas Pipeline by the NGC, which caused the system collapse at about 21.17hours yesterday (Tuesday), is yet to be completed. The grid would have withstood the Odukpani infraction if generation along the Lagos region was available.”

Mbah said the Nigerian Gas Company indicated that a contractor had been mobilised to reconstruct the affected segment of the Western Gas Pipeline, so that gas supply to Omotosho, Egbin and Olorunsogo I and II could be restored.

“According to the NGC, the work will be carried out day and night, and is expected to be completed within 24 hours,” she said.

Explaining what must have caused the inferno, the national oil firm stated that the pipeline, which was built in 1989, was suspected to have been caused by a bush fire in Abakila, Ondo State.

The NNPC said its firemen were drafted to the scene and were able to contain the fire from the leak point of the pipeline.

It, however, noted that the fire could not be extinguished due to the high pressure of the line.

To put off the fire, the corporation stated that the line would require being isolated and depressurised, which might lead to a complete shutdown of the pipeline segment for repair works to be carried out.

Meanwhile, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, has ordered an immediate assessment of the damage, the oil firm added.



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