Uche Usim, Abuja
As the Nigerian economy aches over insufficient power, the Minister of Environment, Mr Muhammad Mahmud, has commended the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the proposed 1,350 Megawatts Independent Power Plant project in Abuja, saying that it would help boost power supply in Nigeria.
Mahmud gave the commendation in Abuja during the Panel Review Meeting on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project.
He said the project was critical to the Federal Government of Nigeria, given its potential to improve the power situation in parts of the country, while assuring that his Ministry’s would see the project to completion.
“Let me seize this opportunity to commend the management of Gas and Power Investment Company and, by extension, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for this wonderful initiative. Certainly, this project is one of the critical infrastructures that the Federal Government is making judicious efforts to embrace,” Mahmud stated.
The Minister, who was represented by Mr Celestine Gomwalk, further stated that the Ministry, through the newly constituted EIA Panel, would ensure that only decisions that are of mutual benefit to all stakeholders would be considered, pointing out that the essence of the exercise was to guarantee sustainability of the Power Plant project.
In his presentation, the Abuja Independent Power Plant Project Manager, Engr Benjamin Adah, stated that part of the objectives of the proposed project was to diversify and monetize NNPC gas revenue stream through power generation.
Adah noted that it was an initiative that would assist in reducing the current gas flare in the country.
He said the project would leverage on the existing huge natural gas resources from the NNPC Upstream and the proposed Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas pipeline to boost Nigeria’s revenue base, and generate employment opportunities for young Nigerians.
The Project Manager informed that besides generating 1350MW into the national grid, the project would help to decongest the excess voltage on the transmission network coming from closely located power generating companies in gas producing areas.
He said the project, which would sit on 54.7 hectares of land in the Gwagwalada area of the Federal Capital Territory, would be co-financed by the NNPC and its strategic partner, GE/CMEC, with a Debt-Equity sharing ratio of 70:30.
Mr David Abang of the Research and Development Division of NNPC, which is the Project Consultant, stated that a lot of research and effort had been put into developing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project, stressing that a lot of similar projects had failed for the lack of a proper EIA study.
He said the host community, Dukpa in Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT, has been carried along in the course of conducting EIA activities.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chief of Dukpa, Alhaji Yinusa Gwamna, said the community was impressed by the way the NNPC Group has carried the community along so far in the course of developing the project, adding that he looked forward to a sustained relationship.
Chairman of the EIA Panel, Prof Sabo Ibrahim, said the project could not have come at a better time, stressing that the review meeting was to identify and assess associated and potential impacts of the project on the environment.
He assured that the panel would carry out a painstaking review and come up with recommendations that would aid the Minister in making informed decisions on the project.
Other stakeholders present at the exercise were Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and researchers from the University of Abuja, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
The highpoint of the event was a visit of members of the panel to the proposed project site for an on-the-spot assessment of the environment.