In January Thierry Tanoh, the minister of oil, energy and renewable energy development, announced that work on the new units at Ciprel and Azito’s combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants would begin this year.
The three IPPs are collectively responsible for the bulk of Ivory Coast’s thermal energy production, using liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplied by majority-private players, including Afren, Foxtrot and Canadian Natural Resources.
Expanding capacity, boosting efficiency
Azito Energie, a subsidiary of the UK-headquartered IPP Globeleq, which has focused its operations in Africa, signed an agreement with the government in December to improve efficiency and capacity at its CCGT plant near Abidjan.
The work will add a further 30 MW of capacity to the 430-MW plant, which currently supplies around 25 percent of Ivory Coast’s electricity. Aside from saving an estimated 420,000 tonnes of CO2 over the plant’s lifetime, the project will boost gas consumption by up to 40m cu feet per day (cfd) to around 110m cfd.
The International Finance Corporation and the World Bank will finance 80 percent of the project, valued at around $400m, and private shareholders will fund the remaining 20 percent. Work on the upgrade is expected to begin in the first half of 2018 and be completed by the end of 2019.
Meanwhile, the expansion at Ciprel, owned by France’s Eranove Group, will add 350 MW of capacity to the CCGT plant located in the Vridi industrial zone. The project is scheduled to become operational in three phases, with commissioning dates set for October 2019, February 2020 and June 2020. The producer operates the largest gas-fired power station in the country, providing a total capacity of 556 MW, with annual production estimated at 3810 GWh.
Scottish company Aggreko has also made clear its intention to expand capacity. At a meeting with Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly in May 2017, Christophe Jacquin, managing director for the West and North Africa Region at Aggreko, said the company planned to upgrade its 200-MW Vridi facility and build a new thermal electricity plant, which the producer will finance from its own funds.
Expansions reflect Abidjan’s rising demand, new LNG terminal
The announcements from Ciprel and Azito mark the latest in a series of capacity expansions designed to keep up with the rising energy demands of Abidjan, the commercial capital and key driver of the country’s recent economic growth.
Ivory Coast’s GDP has grown by an average annual rate of 8.7 percent since 2012, according to the IMF, with the fund predicting further expansion of 7.3 percent this year. This has fed into domestic electricity consumption, which has increased by an average annual rate of around 10 percent in recent years.
Both companies recently completed upgrades, with Ciprel finalising works totalling CFA225bn (€343m) in February 2016, and Azito transitioning from simple-cycle gas turbines to CCGT in June 2015. The Ciprel project added 235 MW of capacity, reducing CO2 emissions by 500,000 tonnes per year, while the Azito expansion boosted total capacity from 290 MW to 430 MW.
Moves to improve efficiency at existing plants have in part been necessitated by the absence of new discoveries of natural gas in recent years. As a result, the government greenlighted the construction of the country’s first LNG import terminal early last year. The terminal will import around 3m tonnes of gas annually and is expected to cost in the region of $140m.
Work on the LNG project, which is being developed by a consortium led by the French multinational Total, broke ground last summer. The facility is located on a floating storage and regasification unit off Vridi. The first LNG is due to be imported from Total’s global supply in mid-2018.
An eye on regional consolidation
The recent upgrades and new developments come amid $9bn government efforts to double energy capacity, opening the door for increased electricity exports. In fact, according to analysis by Africa Energy, an energy consultancy, if all developments unfold as planned, on-grid capacity will reach 4060 MW by 2020, exceeding the government’s target of 4 GW.
Given excess supply, the country may have the opportunity to consolidate its position further in the regional energy market. While transport infrastructure and distribution channels still pose challenges – limiting plants’ abilities to work to capacity – The Ivory Coast is currently the only significant electricity exporter in the region. In a report published in October 2017, the World Bank noted that the construction of the West African Power Pool transmission lines to Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea meant that the country was “well-positioned to be one of the main hubs of electricity trading in the subregion”.
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