The Chief Executive Officer of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Mr. Joshua Offeidie has announced that the much-publicized Osagyefo Power Barge would now be commissioned within the next five years.
He did not explain why it had to take the VRA another five years to put the barge into operation.
Mr. Offedie, who was speaking at the 5th anniversary celebration of the Takoradi International Company (TICO) at Aboadze near Sekondi last Tuesday, however said when the barge was finally put into operation, it would help solve the energy needs of the country.
The Osagyefo barge which was constructed in Italy in the mid 90s and cost the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the government of Ghana several billions of cedis, was finally towed at great cost to Ghana about three years ago. This was after the government had paid several penalties in dollars to the manufacturing company for failing to tow the barge away on schedule.
Ghana has to suffer the penalty because the GNPC, which ordered the manufacture of the barge, had at that time not finished the construction of the artificial pond at Effasu-Mangyea in the Jomoro district of the western region where the barge would have been sited to generate electricity to supplement the energy needs of the country.
Information available indicates that when the barge arrived in the country and was towed from the Sekondi naval base to Effasu-Mangyea, it could not enter the entrance of the artificial pond so it was towed back to the Naval base in Sekondi. The initial plan was to explore natural gas from the Tano oilfield to fire the barge but that idea fizzled out due to lack of funds and the short life span of the field, which was calculated at that time to be only 15 years.
Later it was decided that the West African gas pipeline project should end at Effasu to serve the barge but that idea also fizzled due once again to lack of funds. Meanwhile, all transmission lines that would have wheeled the power generated from the barge to the national grid had been constructed with two big sub stations at Esiama in the Nzema East district and Elubo- all in the western region.
The GNPC, architect of this multi million dollar project dubbed western power project, finally handed over to the VRA when the NPP government assumed office and since then nothing has been heard from official sources about the fate of the project.
Currently, the project site at Effasu, which could boast of modern offices, had been overgrown with weeds, with a skeletal number of security men taking care of the place.
Considering billions, if not trillions of cedis that had gone into the project that is still lying fallow, reporters were expecting the VRA chief executive to announce the resuscitation of the project but that did not come on and rather the bombshell that the barge would be commissioned within the next five years.
The chief executive officer however said with the expected expansion of the TICO's current generating capacity of 210 megawatts to 310 megawatts, the country's energy needs would be met especially when the Osagyefo barge finally starts operations within the next five years.
“It is the objective of the VRA, and I hope the government will support us to maximize efficiency at all our installations. By this, I mean bringing out efficiency in all our thermal plants to the necessary standards,” he said.
The Takoradi International company, which is partly owned by VRA with 10% equity, currently operates two single cycle combustion turbines and generates approximately 210 megawtts of power to supplement that generated by the VRA.
TICO, which currently employs about 55 Ghanaians including two expatriates, is owned by CMC International Operating Company, a subsidiary of CSM Energy based at Michigan in the USA.
It started commercial operations in Ghana in 2000 and has since generated nearly 30 million megawatts of power from its single cycle combustion turbines.
The plant was constructed with initial capital of $100 million.
Plans are far advanced to increase the current capacity of the plant from 220 to 330 megawatts.
The project, when finally completed, would increase the generating capacity of the Takoradi Thermal Plant to 660 megawatts. VRA is already generating 330 megawatts from its own plant at Aboadze.
The American Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Carlin Yates who also attended the 5th anniversary celebration of the TICO's existence in Ghana said the expected expansion of the company's plant signified the improved nature of Ghana's economy under president Kufuor and his desire to attract investment into the country.
She commended management of TICO for pumping $150, 000 into community projects at Aboadze and Abuesi and hoped they would continue to support the people in their catchment area.
Present was the Ag. Deputy Western Regional Minister, Madam Sophia Horner-Sam.