Floating power plant Karpowership in plans to expand access to electricity in West Africa

WEST AFRICA – Karpowership, a unit of Turkey’s Karadeniz Energy and an operator of floating power plants, is in talks to bring power to two West African countries, as onshore plans to expand access to electricity have been hit by coronavirus-related restrictions.

Karpowership, which already supplies eight African countries, is using the high reliability of its mobile units to attract more clients.

Its vessels can hook into an onshore grid quickly, sidestepping the red-tape and construction issues involved with building a traditional power plant. And these ships come with their own fuel — liquefied natural gas and fuel oil.

“We’re hoping to put a ship in both of them before the end of this year,” said Managing Director Zeynep Harezi.

Karpowership executives met the Cameroonian Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute on January 25 and discussed a possible deal to supply power with the country’s main port Douala, Yaounde-based Energies Media reported, citing the state broadcaster.

Karpowership, which supplies nearly 1,400MW to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is seeking to provide an additional 1,000MW to existing and new clients in the region this year, Harezi said.

While the pandemic has increased the appeal of its model, it’s also affected the company’s plans to list shares in London. ‘We’ve put it to the back burner, because we’re focusing on growing the company right now, in a more flexible and agile way,’ she said.

In Lebanon, where Karpowership has two floating vessels responsible for a quarter of the country’s electricity generation capacity, missed payments to the company threatened to deepen a power crisis, Bloomberg reported in July. Harezi confirmed payments were outstanding, declining to comment further.

“The expected start of liquefied natural gas production within a few years offshore Mozambique and Senegal will allow these countries to use domestically produced LNG, further reducing costs,” Stefan Ulrich, an analyst at London-based Energy Aspects said.

“A ship (and its accompanying LNG storage unit) can relocate and start providing power to a new location within a few months,” he said.

Harezi wants her power ships to be seen as more than a quick-fix.

“A land-based power plant needs to be dismantled at the end of its lifetime, which leaves a big environmental problem in the hands of the government. When the economic and physical lifetime of the power ship expires after 25 years we just unplug and then leave,” she said.

The company is seeking to convert more of its fleet to natural gas from heavy fuel, Harezi said. It’s already converted a ship that supplies 470MW to Ghana. It intends to switch to liquefied natural gas in Mozambique this year, and eventually in Senegal too.

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