By Oludare Mayowa
LAGOS May 18 – General Electric (GE) plans to launch a gas turbine assembly plant in Nigeria next year and has invested over $100 million as it seeks to tap growing demand for gas-fired power plants in Africa’s biggest economy, its local CEO said on Thursday.
Lazarus Angbazo said GE wants to support the development of Nigeria’s gas reserve which is largely untapped, adding that the U.S. company has invested in some local power plants.
Nigeria privatised its electricity sector in 2013, aiming to end decades of blackouts which have hampered economic growth. Most of the plants it sold were gas-fired, operating below capacity due to inadequate gas supply.
Officials say demand for gas in Nigeria is estimated to rise to 3 billion standard cubic feet (scuf) per day by 2017 from 1.2 billion scuf per day in 2015, ten times the 300 million of eight years ago.
OPEC member Nigeria has the world’s ninth largest proven gas reserves at 187 trillion scuf. Last month state-oil firm NNPC said it wanted to more than triple gas supply for local use by 2020.
Angbazo said construction work on the plant which is located in the southeastern Nigerian city of Calabar is expected to be completed in December. Operations will start in the first quarter, the company told Reuters by email.
GE has made a bid for a $2 billion railway project to connect Nigeria’s northern cities to the south of the country and could expand its plant to include locomotive assembly.
“We are already in talks with major haulage companies in the country to secure their buy-in on the project,” Angbazo said. (Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha, editing by Ed Osmond)