It appears the return of the frequent power outages in many parts of the country may last longer as Ghana’s first Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel on the Jubilee Field may take longer to recover from its current technical challenges.
Dr. Steve Manteaw of ISODEC hinted that the kind of challenge facing the FPSO could take longer; at least eight weeks.” About six weeks ago, government communicated that the FPSO was shutting down for some maintenance work which will last two weeks. However the last request for extension ended last Saturday, April 23, 2016. This makes the maintenance which was originally communicated to last for two weeks, now six weeks.
Officials of Tullow, one of the partners working in the Jubilee field, The Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCO) and several government officials, including the Minister of Energy, Mr. Amoah Kofi Boah have explained that the challenge will soon be sorted out but, that is yet to de reached as latest findings suggest others wise. The estimated cost of repairs and the actual period required for the repairs are unknown.
However, speaking at a workshop for Financial and Economic Journalists in the country, Dr. Manteaw noted that the problem with the FPSO is something that would last at least eight weeks for short term remedial measures and over five months for a long term measure. He therefore warned that “In the event of the shutdown lasting more than a month there is no doubt that Ghana will return to the dreadful days of intense power rationing locally referred to as ‘dumsor’.
The workshop was organised by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) and sponsored by the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) to review the EITI reconciliation report on oil and gas and the mining industry.
Details of Fault
He further disclosed that the shutdown of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah is due to the fault detected by Tullow in a component referred to as ‘turret bearing’ in mid-February.
A release on Tullow’s website confirmed that “Technical investigation of the condition of the turret bearing on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah has confirmed that the bearing has been damaged and is no longer able to rotate as originally designed. Oil production and gas export can continue but under revised operating and off-take procedures.” As a result “The FPSO Kwame Nkrumah has now been placed on “heading control” through the use of tugs which minimise vessel movement around the bearing.”
In other to ensure continues production, the technical team has reviewed operating procedures to include the use of a dynamically-positioned shuttle tanker (capacity of 250,000 barrels of oil) and a storage tanker (capacity of 1 million barrels of oil) as the short term remedial measure while a long term remediation option is most appropriate.
Other Experts have also explained that the bearing is attached to the turret unit and so if engineers are unable to fix the faulty bearing, the whole turret unit will have to be replaced, an operation that can only be carried out in a dry dock facility.
The African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) has demanded for a total technical audit the FPSO to enable engineers to address the challenge holistically once and for all.
A long term solution requires that the FPSO may have to be decoupled from its production wells and sent back to Singapore or other countries with a dry-dock facility to facilitate the replacement. Dr. Manteaw explained that as it is now, the countries where such fault could be fixed included Italy, Malaysia, Spain and Dubai.
He said Dubai which was the closest to Ghana will require two months’ time, exclusive of the number of months it will take to have the turret bearing replaced and tested.
A statement from GRIDCO also hinted that due to the shutdown, gas flow from the Atuabo Gas Processing plant to the Aboaze thermal enclave and the Ameri gas plant has been curtailed. Gas from the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo) pipeline has reduced to only 6mscf from 120mscf due to the damage of some pipelines in Nigeria
As the interim a process of converting all dual fuel thermal plants to run on Light Crude Oil to mitigate the challenge have been employed. That notwithstanding, the transmission system may experience some challenges, thereby affecting power supply stability, the statement concluded.
Dr. Manteaw who is also the Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas analyzed that the estimated crude oil production for 2016 is 38.73 million barrels which translates to an average of 106,000 barrels of oil per day. A 14-day shutdown will mean an average of 1.5million bopd shortfall in production.
Based on government’s estimated 20 percent share of production, Ghana could lose about 296,800 barrels of oil over the period representing a revenue loss of US$8.9 million, based on an estimated US$30 price per barrel. This lose in revenue he said was substantial enough to trigger a review of the budget estimates.
By Kwadwo Duodu