Deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum John Abdulai Jinapor has hinted that Ghana’s thermal energy sector will in the near future rely mainly on Gas as a source of fuel.

Mr. Jinapor noted, under the current circumstance where the thermal power industry continues reliance on expensive Light Crude Oil and in some cases, diesel, does not make economic and strategic sense.

He said the country cannot attract additional investment in thermal power generation – whether public or private – without guaranteeing the minimum returns on investment associated with these investments, hence the need to search aggressively for cheaper fuels.

Mr. Jinapor who made the disclosure at the opening of a two-day international workshop on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Negotiations in Accra, further disclosed plans by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to encourage the development of an LNG importation and regasification business in Ghana.

“An LNG Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) will not only help remove the immediate fuel constraints, but also reduce significantly the associated cost of using Light Crude Oil”, he added.

The Deputy Minister recounted some challenging moments in the past two decades such reduced water level in the Akosombo Dam and the disruptions in the supply of Gas from the West Africa pipeline, which led to harsh conditions of load shedding, noting that these challenges have strengthened “our resolve to adopt other viable alternatives” to ensure a reliable supply of energy with particular emphasis on fuel for thermal plants.

He regretted that whilst Ghana’s peak demand for Electricity has increased from 100mw in 1967 to almost 2,000mw representing an increase in demand of 2000%, supply and availability of electricity capacity has only increased to about 2400mw representing a mere increase by 100%. To this end he noted, it was time to adopt sound strategic policies to partner the private sector to achieve the target of 5,000mw by 2016.

Mr. Jinapor further added that there was the need for government to look for alternate source of fuel due of uncertainties in gas supply from the West African Gas Pipeline Project, saying, choices before government are stark; whether to wait and hope for sufficient natural gas to come on-stream in Ghana or down the pipeline from Nigeria or look at alternative fuel sources such as LNG.

He disclosed that although the expected Gas from the Ghana Gas company at Atuobo will in no small way make a significant contribution to the fuel needs in the energy sector, it was imperative to note that the Jubilee Gas will not be sufficient to fire all the thermal plants in the country.