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19.10.2004 General News

Power Barge Still Lying Idle

By PFm

The Italian company which constructed a the $120million barge to produce electricity is demanding an additional equivalent of 34 million Japanese Yen before it will send its experts down to thoroughly examine the barge and fix it to suit modern specification. The government as part of its international obligation, has so far paid $12million as demorage charges on the barge which was kept in Italy since its purchase in 1999, till it was brought into the country in 2002.

In an interview in Accra, the deputy minister of energy, Mr. K.T. Hammond said the government was in discussion with officials of the company to find an amicable solution to the situation. Mr. Hammond stated that the failure of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to secure a suitable place of location before purchasing the barge had cost and continued to cost the government millions of dollars in demorage and related costs. He said “the basic prerequisite needed to be instituted before the purchase of the barge included a suitable place for its location and provision of enough gas to power it.

The government, on assumption of office realized that the barge, which was acquired with a Japanese grant was lying idle, building up debt in Italy. It accordingly decided to bring it down while it found a lasting solution to the problem. It is currently resting at the Sekondi Naval Base.

The government, according to Mr. Hammond, was doing everything possible to install the barge which has the capacity to produce 125 megawatts of electricity. For instance, he said the alternative solution to the provision of enough gas to power the barge was the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP). “The failure to institute the relevant modalities before purchasing the barge is a discredit to the former management of GNPC,” adding “the barge had brought nothing but debt and that was of great concern to the government,” Mr. Hammond stressed.

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