Daily Trust checks indicate that the overseeing agency, the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), through the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) recently shifted the payment deadline and granting of bank guarantees from July 2015 to January 2016.The bank guarantees period, which serve as assurance from the bidders to transaction handlers, was extended initially from July 2015 to August 2015 before it was finally moved to January 2016. The preferred bidders emerged in March 2014 and were since directed to pay up with the promise of commissioning the plants within the first quarter of 2015. A source privy to the recent NCP and Joint Transaction Technical Committee (JTTC) meeting for the 10 NIPPs said NDPHC wrote a letter early this month to the preferred bidders that there is a fresh extension of the bank guarantees they had submitted to January 2016.Although the decision was left for the preferred bidders to consider, NDPHC noted that the rejection of the extension would mean they are forfeiting their status to the reserved bidders. With the payment, government would be earning N1.157trillion ($5.814billion) from privatising the 10 plants which have a combined power generation capacity of 5,280megawatts (mw) of which three - 434mw Geregu II, 500mw Omotosho and 750mw Olorunsogo plants - have been commissioned in October 2013 and March 2015 respectively.Three others - 1,076mw Alaoji (the largest), 504mw Ihorvbor and 504mw Ogorode plants - have been slated for commissioning beginning from this week, a source said.A bidder who spoke on anonymity said there are concerns that the plants should all be operating before the preferred bidders could pay up their bid price. The bidder said the defunct PHCN generation plants were bid and paid for shortly because the facilities were operating already.“The challenges of getting right the gas-to-power infrastructures to the plants must be completely addressed because once most of us take money from the banks to pay for the plants, we need to be operational to start paying back immediately,” the bidder stated.Confirming the shift in the deadline, NDPHC General Manager Public Communications, Mr Yakubu Lawal, said the extension was to continue to guarantee their interest in the assets.He said “It was on the payment for the 10 NIPPs. The preferred bidders have not paid yet so, the bid bond which they submitted has expired; and we had to ask them to extend it.“The implication is that if they extend it, that means they are still in the race to buy the plants but if they refuse to extend, that automatically shows that they are out of the bid,” he said.On the NIPP gas pipelines, he said NDPHC has completed most of the facilities for the transporter and the gas suppliers, especially the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC) to utilise. Lawal said, “What I do know is that the pipelines and other facilities required by us to move the gas from their own (transporters and gas suppliers) facilities, particularly the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), into our own have been done now.“In all our power stations, we have completed the pipeline infrastructure. Except for maybe, I think it is only Egbema that is left because the Gbarain pipeline distance is just short. The gas facility is just behind our power station, less than 500metres,” he noted.Lawal also explained why the commissioning of Ihovbor, Ogorode and Alaoji NIPPs were shifted recently, saying the NDPHC was ready to facilitate the commissioning of three more plants but awaits the Presidency.He said “For the commissioning, we are ready with the plants; it is not us delaying them anymore. If Mr President says I am ready to go today, we will be there.”
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