MAINSTREAM ENERGY SOLUTIONS

Nigeria 2019 | GAS & POWER | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Lamu Audu, CEO of Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited, on the Gas & Power sector.

BIOGRAPHY
Lamu Audu obtained his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Maiduguri and the Ramat College of Technology Maiduguri and Kaduna Polytechnic. He began his career with the Borno State Ministry of Works and Housing in 1986 immediately after completing his one-year National Youth Service Corps with WRECA in Kano. He was with Borno State MOW&H as a principal mechanical engineer until moving to the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) as a manager in 1996. In 2002, he was promoted to senior manager at Kainji Hydro Power Station and principal manager in 2008 before being transferred to Jebba Hydro Electric PLC to become assistant general manager in 2009. In August 2011, Lamu was appointed MD/CEO of Jebba Hydro Electric PLC.

Since investing in Kainji and Jebba in 2013, what have been your master achievements?

We are expected to recover the storage capacity of both plants within five years, a total storage capacity of 1,338MW. When we took over Kainji in November 2013, there was no single generating unit running. We immediately put into place a robust capacity recovery plan and had the plant in place by 2014. We currently have 440MW from Kainji. We could have done better, though there were issues with the market. Our invoices were not paid, which limited our income. The single off-taker in Nigeria is Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET), which buys from us and sells to distribution companies (discos), which in turn are expected to remit the money back to NBET. Discos were not performing, so payments were not delivered. This limited our ability to complete the capacity recovery as planned. We are still in the process of capacity recovery. Of the 1,338MW, we have 922MW available. In addition, we are putting in place an expansion program. Kainji was designed for a storage capacity of 960MW, and there is room for an additional four turbines that can be installed to expand the capacity.

Mainstream injected USD26 million to rehabilitate Kainji Plant. How was that funded, and how do you plan to fund your further expansion?

We funded the rehabilitation through our own cash flow. Meanwhile, for the expansion program, we are looking at financial and technical partners to recover the investment and day-to-day operations. We seek a partnership in the sense of equity and participation. On the technical side, we expect our partners to have a direct link to or partner that is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or a suitable engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor. We wanted a financing partner and started with African Development Bank, which approved a USD1-million line for us with 20/80 equity and debt. To date, we have paid off the total debt. We intend to continue to use our own income for the capacity recovery through our cash flow, whereas for the expansion we will seek external funding. Today, we contribute 20% to Nigeria's power generation. Both our plants are in the northern central part, along the River Niger. The arrangement is such that generation companies (gencos) do not service a particular area, but our energy is sorted through the grid network. Even the thermal plants that were sold outright still have to sell their energy through the off-taker, NBET. It is an interim arrangement until the market develops.